Stores usher in holiday shopping season with big discounts, expanded hours

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Welcome to Black Friday.

The traditional start of the annual Christmas shopping season has arrived.

Stores around the nation got it rolling with midnight openings and a blitz of door-buster deals, hoping to overcome a challenging economy that's prompted customers to look more and buy less. To meet sales goals, merchants will have to get them in the stores and keep them coming back.

Despite a return to chilly weather, shoppers in Columbia, South Carolina, were among those who lined up in droves this morning. About 200 were waiting at a Target an hour before opening. A man at the head of the line says he was there for a 19-inch LCD TV for under $200.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, says it's offering specials on TVs and digital cameras. Toys "R" Us says it's got 101 door busters on items ranging from Barbie styling sets to Hasbro's FurReal interactive jungle cat. And J.C. Penny is touting 50-percent-off sales on toys and board games, plus a $799 leather massage recliner for a tad under 300 bucks, including mail-in rebate.

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