The holiday shopping season kicked off early, as several retailers began offering deals on Thanksgiving Day. Many people complained about the early start and the mad rush for deals - yet they went out shopping anyway. After all that, some thought the deals weren't all that great - at least compared with online shopping.

The holiday shopping season kicked off early, as several retailers began offering deals on Thanksgiving Day. Many people complained about the early start and the mad rush for deals yet they went out shopping anyway. After all that, some thought the deals weren't all that great at least compared with online shopping.

The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. For a decade, it had been considered the official start of the holiday buying season. But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving. They've also pushed up discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November, which has led retail experts to question whether the Thanksgiving openings will steal some of Black Friday's thunder.

The holiday openings came despite threatened protests from workers' rights groups, which are opposed to employees working on the holiday instead of spending the day with family.

Here's how the start of the holiday shopping season played out. All times are EST, unless otherwise specified.

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Friday, 3:10 p.m.: Wal-Mart says 5 million shoppers took advantage of a one-hour guarantee program on Thanksgiving night. That's up from a preliminary count of 1 million. The strategy allows shoppers who are inside a Wal-Mart store within one hour of a doorbuster sales event to buy that product and either take it home that day or by Christmas.

Among the items: a $98 32-inch flat-panel LED TV.

Anne D'Innocenzio, AP Retail Writer, New York

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Friday, 3 p.m.: Crowded holiday shopping lot in Va. turns violent.

A dispute in a Virginia parking lot crowded with holiday shoppers turned violent Thanksgiving night, with one throwing a punch and another responding by cutting him with a knife and brandishing a rifle, the sheriff's office said Friday.

Both men were charged Thursday after the altercation in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Tazewell County that sent panicked shoppers scattering.

Christopher Jackson, 35, was waiting for another shopper to leave a parking space when Ronnie Sharp, 61, began sounding his horn behind Jackson's vehicle, the Tazewell County Sheriff's Office said.

Sheriff Brian Hieatt said Jackson got out of his vehicle and confronted Sharp, punching him, and Sharp responded by severely cutting Jackson on the arm with a knife and pulling out a rifle. The rifle was not loaded.

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Friday, 2:50 p.m.: A deal is a deal, even if it comes with hassles.

Barbara Salort, a school aide from Springfield. N.J., went to Wal-Mart on Thursday night in hopes of scoring Beats headphones. The store ran out just as she got to the front of the line but Wal-Mart offered a voucher.

"After you wait in a line, you wait in another line, and after you're close they give you a coupon and say 'Oh it's guaranteed!'"

She said she paid for them. She said the deal was worth it at $114 instead of $175.

Candice Choi, AP Retail Writer, Millburn, N.J.

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Friday, 1:45 p.m.: Some avoid Black Friday and donate or get coats instead in Rhode Island

While shoppers were spending Black Friday at the mall, some people in Rhode Island were taking a break from commerce to give away a coat or get one for free.

It's the state's twist on Buy Nothing Day, a two-decade-old statement against consumerism that started in Vancouver and is now marked on the day after Thanksgiving in some places in the U.S.

Maureen Keane is unemployed and picked up four coats for friends as Christmas gifts. She says she can't afford gifts this year.

Michelle R. Smith, Associated Press, Providence, R.I.

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Friday, 1:20 p.m.: Black Friday shoppers at some stores in Newark, Del., were left in the dark briefly.

The Christiana Mall had a partial power outage, though many stores still had power.

Delmarva Power said a fuse problem with the mall's electrical system caused the outage. Full power was restored in less than an hour. During the outage, some storefronts pulled down security gates. There was also an increased police and mall security presence.

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Friday, 1:05 p.m.: Most deals not worth the hassle for Georgia couple

Tony Abruzzio and his wife, Sherry, aborted an attempt to buy gifts at a Bass Pro Shop in Savannah, Ga., when they saw what looked like at least 100 people waiting for cashiers. "I just put our stuff back," Abruzzio said. "We didn't want to stand in line all day."

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, Savannah, Ga.

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Friday, 12:45 p.m.: Black Friday and its problems aren't limited to the United States.

At least one person has been injured in Northern Ireland as shoppers rushed to get deals for Black Friday, a day of sales modeled on the American kick-off to the holiday shopping season.

British supermarket chain Asda owned by U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart has been advertising its Black Friday deals throughout the U.K.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said it was called to Westwood Center in Belfast and took a woman with an arm injury to the hospital.

Asda's Westwood store had two dozen 32-inch TVs on sale at reduced prices, according to Britain's Press Association.

Asda said in a statement that the safety of its customers is of "vital importance" and that it has extra security in stores.

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Friday, 12:20 p.m.: In an interview, Macy's CEO says employees chose Thanksgiving shifts.

Like many other retailers, Macy's began offering deals on Thursday. Some workers' rights groups threatened protests at various retailers.

Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren said about 90 percent of the spots filled by regular employees. He said the company gave first choice to its 176,000 full-time workers. Many were willing, he said, partly because of overtime pay.

Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer, New York

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Friday, 11:35 a.m.: A dummy holds place in line for Anchorage shopper.

Annie Luck's Black Friday started Wednesday and included a mannequin.

The 53-year-old Anchorage woman set up a lawn chair at 4 p.m. Wednesday, local time, to stake out first place in line for the opening of Best Buy 26 hours later. She spent part of Wednesday night sleeping in her car. A dummy in a face mask and construction hat held her place.

The Anchorage Daily News reports Luck wore five pairs of pants and five shirts to stay warm in 16-degree temperatures.

Luck figured she could save $1,100 by getting to the store early for two laptop computers and three iPods.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/IoI0KY

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Friday, 10:25 a.m.: Florida man arrested after baby left alone in shopping center parking lot

A father faces felony child neglect charges after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted a baby left alone in a car outside a Best Buy store.

The incident happened about 5:30 p.m. Thursday near Orlando.

Authorities say trooper Edy Rivera saw the infant in a car seat inside a locked car. He went into the store, looking for the vehicle's owner. When no one came forward, he broke the vehicle's window and got the baby boy out.

A short time later, officials say 34-year-old Haider Darwash returned to the vehicle. He told troopers he thought his wife had the baby. She was located standing in line at another business in the shopping center.

The child was not harmed.

Darwash was booked into jail.

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Friday, 8:35 a.m.: No fistfights, but store out of Furby

The atmosphere was calm at the stores Judy Phillips and Bonnie Dow visited during their annual Black Friday trek that began Thanksgiving night. They eventually made it to Target in nearby Clifton Park, N.Y. "No one's been fist fighting with anybody," Dow said.

Phillips said they got "great deals" on such items as blankets, but they couldn't buy the popular Furby toy. "They're all sold out," she said.

Chris Carola, Associated Press, Clifton Park, N.Y.

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Friday, 7:30 a.m.: Exhaustion for shopper near Atlanta

Curtis Akins, 51, drove about three hours from Tifton, Ga., to watch the annual Macy's tree-lighting ceremony at Lenox Square mall in Atlanta on Thanksgiving. The store opened for shoppers at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and the rest of the mall opened at midnight.

By 5 a.m. Friday, he was sitting on a bench looking slightly exhausted inside another mall as his wife shopped. Akins said he wasn't keen on Black Friday starting earlier.

"It's taking away from the traditional Thanksgiving," he said.

Jeff Martin, Associated Press, Alpharetta, Ga.

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Thursday, 6 p.m.: An hour after its 6 p.m. opening, a Best Buy in New York City was bustling. Buying a TV on was on Rodney Bernard's mind. "My friend is chewing me out right now for not being there," said Bernard, 39, a writer. Instead of being at his friend's Thanksgiving celebration, he was at Best Buy. "But I really needed a TV."

Mae Anderson, AP Retail Writer, New York