From Boston to Chicago, full-contact shopping started before sunrise, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi.
Some people got a little overzealous in their desire to snag the Black Friday deals before they ran out. In a store near Charlotte, N.C., for example, one woman left the store on a stretcher.
All of it is proof that a good, flat panel TV sale can shatter common sense.
"It's worth it, it's worth it. Definitely. You save a lot of money," said a man outside a Best Buy store in New Jersey,.
This year analysts say shoppers will spend about $790 on gifts, compared to about $740 last year.
And that would increase holiday sales up 5 percent, to about $457 billion — more than $23 billion of it spent this weekend alone.
But some retailers may not be ready for the rush.
"It's almost like the stores sabotaged themselves," says retail analyst Burt Flickinger.
Uncertainty about home heating prices and the war worried some analysts so much that some stores waited to place orders.
"They waited too long. They didn't have enough product in the United States to stock the shelves, so now there's a real shortage from coast to coast.
Even retailers with enough stock, are offering deeper discounts, earlier than ever.
"I think retailers are really concerned that when people are cautious about their money, you need to get them out early, you to need them to spend now, because you don't know what will happen tomorrow," says Wendy Liebman, a retail analyst.
But analysts say shoppers might break sales records today — just based on traffic. No, not at the mall parking lot, but on the Web.
There was so much traffic on the Wal-mart Web site today that it stalled.
A company spokesman said they had more visitors than even they expected. Fortunately, none of them ended up on a stretcher.