NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on Black Friday (all times local):
Octavius Crawford was out in person at the Mall of America for Black Friday because it's close to him and he'd save on shipping, even though he would get the gifts in a couple of days if he ordered online.
The 31-year-old chef from the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield, Minnesota bought a printer and headphones at the Best Buy store at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Crawford says he saved about $50 on the printer and $40 on the headphones. He started his holiday shopping on Black Friday.
He loves shopping on Amazon as well. He likes to take his time, research "and I go on from there."
Patty Moosbrugger of Denver was out for Black Friday with her daughter and said she never shops online because she and her daughter like "instant gratification."
They went to Target first to buy a robot vacuum for her husband because that's the only thing he wanted for Christmas. It is originally $350 but today they got it for $200. Afterward they planned to poke around Neiman Marcus. She also plans to look for house decor and furniture on sale.
And Jessie Lee from Aurora, Colorado, said he shopped Friday at stores including Pac Sun, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Urban Outfitters. He chose to go out because he would rather try things on in person and finds it a hassle to return clothes.
Some shoppers were surprised at how little madness there was in Black Friday.
At a Walmart in Toledo, Ohio, shopping ads left behind from the night before littered the mostly empty parking lot Friday morning. Those who were out found plenty of parking spaces closer to the store than they would most weekend mornings. Inside, less than a dozen shoppers stood in line at a handful of the 22 cash register lanes that were open.
Celina Ramsey, 24, of Toledo, thought maybe she had missed all of the deals because there were so few people around. She found some sales, but less than she expected. Rose Roberts of Toledo said she didn't see any of the craziness and it made it nicer.
At a shopping complex in Miami, people were easily finding parking and picking up items or heading straight to the cashiers without having to wait in line like it was a regular weekday. Annette Peluffo said she doesn't usually do Black Friday but it was quiet and the lines weren't bad.
DeEtte Burnett, her daughter and her daughter's friend juggled multiple shopping bags Friday inside the Nordstrom store at a mall in downtown Anchorage. As they do every year, they are in town for the Thanksgiving holiday from Fairbanks to watch a hockey tournament.
But they also wanted to put in some Black Friday shopping, hitting the mall early to shop for leggings, pajamas and other clothes.
This year, Burnett says the girls decided to do a little more "hard-core" shopping by hitting more than just one store.
It helps that the mall didn't appear to be as crowded this year.
Burnett says that's a welcome change
Chuck Boyd said he and his son arrived at 4 a.m. to be among the fort several people in line at Best Buy in Nashville to get one each of about 14 "doorbuster" deals on a 55-inch Toshiba smart TV for $280, a $220 savings.
The store was open on Thanksgiving, closed overnight and reopened at 8 a.m. Friday to a few dozen people in line awaiting additional early-bird specials.
Boyd said he never goes out for Black Friday deals and prefers online shopping. But his son wanted a TV for his apartment at school, so Boyd came along to get one too.
Hot toys were hard to find in stores. That's according to Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of toy review website TTPM.
Among the sold-out ones, Silver says: Fingerlings robotic monkeys; Luvabella moving dolls; and Pikmi Pops and LOL Surprise Big Surprise, both of which hide dolls or small stuffed animals in plastic balls that are wrapped in several layers of packaging.
Silver, who visited Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and other stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday near Carle Place, New York, says there were fewer people in stores than years past.
"It's easier to go online" to shop for toys, Silver says, "than just run from store to store and not find it."
Macy's CEO Jeff Gennette says that customer counts are higher and business was better in the North and Northeast even with fewer promotions from a year ago. Last year, Macy's had a lot of unsold merchandise from the third quarter that needed to be liquidated.
He said deals on exclusive fashions, perfume sets and gadgets helped drive attention. And cold weather helped fuel sales of items like coat and boots. He predicts that Macy's will sell more than a million cold weather items on Thursday and Friday combined.
At malls operated by CBL Properties, giveaway bags with store gift cards for the first 300 people in the doors at 6 a.m. were gone in 10 minutes, says CEO Stephen Lebovitz, about the same as last year.
The busiest stores were Victoria's Secret, Pink and Bath & Body Works, all owned by L Brands Inc., likely because of the deals they were offering, says Lebovitz. Victoria's Secret, for example, gave away sequined tote bags for those that spent $75 at the lingerie seller.
CBL, which owns and manages about 119 different types of shopping properties, kept its malls closed on Thanksgiving Day to build excitement for Black Friday, Lebovitz says. He called it a strong start.
After sweet potato pie, more people picked up their smartphones to shop this year.
Amazon says orders through its mobile app on Thanksgiving Day were up more than 50 percent from a year ago.
Adobe Analytics, the research arm of software maker Adobe, says 46 percent of online store-site visits came from a smartphone on the holiday. And they weren't just browsing, about 29 percent of revenue came from smartphones, Adobe says.
Early numbers show people are shopping on their phones for Black Friday deals, too. By 10 a.m. Eastern time, nearly 51 percent of visits to retailer's websites were through a smartphone, Adobe says.
"Retailers know this is where the audience is now and are delivering better experiences," says Mickey Mericle, Adobe's vice president of marketing and customer insights.
Mall operator Taubman Centers says there seemed to be more families and fewer teens shopping for Thanksgiving night.
Chief Operating Officer Bill Taubman says the company reported strong sales in women's and teen clothing, footwear and electronics Thanksgiving night. At Westfarms mall in Connecticut, 300 people were in line for J.C. Penney's 2 p.m. opening Thanksgiving.
Taubman says he thinks traffic will be up more than sales as people want to be out. Taubman said the question is whether shoppers will find what they need as more stores take merchandise from the floor to send directly to online shoppers.
As Black Friday spreads globally, in France an anti-Black Friday movement has emerged among e-commerce sites that oppose consumerism.
A French association called Zero Waste France got thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses nationwide to sign up to a Black Friday boycott via an online petition called "Count me out on Black Friday."
French furniture outlet Camif closed its website for 24 hours Friday in protest at the imported American big-spend day — and invites internet users to give to nonprofits all day instead.
Camif's Product Chief Frederic Emery called Black Friday "an example that's to responsible consumerism" and said "what's more it is not part of French culture."
In France, over seven years Black Friday has slowly crept into the country on the day after Thanksgiving even though it's not celebrated in France.
At a shopping complex in Miami, Georgina Martinez came out of a Target empty-handed, saying she couldn't find good deals on toy cars and dolls she buys in bulk to send for Christmas donations in her native Dominican Republic.
She said the toys were either too modern or too expensive to buy in bulk. She doesn't buy online because she likes to see the quality of the toys in person but is afraid she may have missed out on early specials on websites for waiting until Black Friday to hit the stores.
Martinez was planning to head to Toys R Us, Walmart and a shopping mall to see if she had more luck.
Thirty-two-year-old Nanci Custer and her mother-in-law, Jeanne Custer, got an early start to their shopping Friday so they could make the 25-mile trip from Pendleton, Indiana, to downtown Indianapolis and hit the stores at Circle Centre Mall.
They left their homes about 6:30 a.m. for their Black Friday shopping tradition of visiting the downtown mall which they said they like because it lacks the throngs of shoppers who pack other Indianapolis-area malls.
The women spent most of their morning at the mall's multi-level Carson's store, where Nanci Custer said she spent just $67 buying gifts, mostly clothes, for six relatives.
Her mother-in-law's finds included an air-powered deep fryer, what she called "a no-guilt fryer" that normally costs $130 but which she got for $80, and a new comforter.
The Mall of America in Minnesota says that 2,500 people were in line at the 5 a.m. opening Friday, in line with a year ago. Shoppers started queuing up as early as 5:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Jill Renslow, Mall of America's executive vice president of business development, said that stores like Nordstrom, Macy's and Best Buy were crowded. She said the items that caught shoppers' attention included were voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo, nostalgic toys, clothing and shoes.
Like other shopping centers, the mall has been fighting online buying by integrating technology with the shopping experience. Shoppers can now reserve a premium parking space on an app before heading to the mall. Renslow says more than 60 of the 500-plus stores now allow shoppers to order online and pick up the goods at the mall. That's a big increase from a year ago.
It's Black Friday, but retailers are already looking ahead to Cyber Monday.
Target says everything on its site will be 15 percent off on Monday, and it will offer discounts throughout the week on specific categories, such as 40 percent off towels and bedding on Tuesday. Amazon's deals on its gadgets were similar to its Black Friday ones, such as 40 percent off its voice-activated Echo Dot. But it added other deals, such as 30 percent off Lego sets and 50 percent off certain Hasbro toys, such as Nerf and Play-doh.
Walmart, meanwhile, says it has tripled the assortment of products it has online from last year and is offering thousands of deals. Among its deals: 40 percent off a voice-activated Google Home Mini, $100 off the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse and $90 off the Xbox One S video console.
Shoppers are expected to spend $6.6 billion on Cyber Monday, up 16 percent from last year, according to Adobe Analytics.
Friends Yeshica Jeffers and Stacey Rhodes-Sofer hit a Walmart in suburban Albany, New York, before dawn.
Jeffers says it's a tradition, but it was more fun before stores started opening on Thanksgiving. Both women were adamant that Thanksgiving Day was for families and not for getting a jump start on holiday shopping.
Rhodes-Sofer said she was buying cosmetics for her 20-year-old daughter and books for her goddaughters — Jeffers' twins. Also on the shopping list: kitchen gadgets and fishing gear for her husband.
Both said they were spending more this year, especially Jeffers now that her daughters were into reading and science.
And both women said they'll still do plenty of online shopping, especially through Amazon
As shoppers begin their holiday buying in earnest, some popular items appear to be TVs, electronics and toys like Hatchimals.
Target said in a post on its website that popular deals included several big-screen TVs. In toys, it cited BattleBots and Hatchimals.
Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart's U.S. division, said Thursday that in the company's online sales that began just after midnight on Thanksgiving, a broad range of deals from toys to TVs to slow cookers and Google Home mini gadgets took off.
Linda Adair, who was shopping Thursday at a J.C. Penney in Columbia, Missouri, came with her husband from nearby Boonville to buy presents for charity and family, mainly clothing for the couple's grandchildren. She said in-demand toys include fidget spinners and Hatchimals, although she jokingly said the latter is overpriced and her granddaughter "is not getting one from us."
Workers at a half dozen Amazon distribution centers in Germany and one in Italy walked off the job Friday, in a protest timed to coincide with "Black Friday" to demand better wages from the American online giant.
In Germany, Ver.di union spokesman Thomas Voss said some 2,500 workers were on strike at Amazon facilities in Bad Hersfeld, Leipzig, Rheinberg, Werne, Graben and Koblenz. In a warehouse near Piacenza, in northern Italy, some workers walked off the job to demand "dignified salaries."
The German union has been leading a push since 2013 for higher pay for some 12,000 workers in Germany, arguing Amazon employees receive lower wages than others in retail and mail-order jobs. Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistics centers and employees earn relatively high wages for that industry.
The strikes in Germany are expected to end Saturday.
Stores are hoping deals and excitement bring shoppers to stores and to their sites for Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
But Black Friday has morphed from a single day when people got up early to score doorbusters into a whole season of deals, so shoppers may feel less need to be out. Some love the excitement. Others may check their phones and go back to sleep. But the Thanksgiving weekend, when stores go all-out to attract shoppers, can be an indication of how they'll do through the season.
With the jobless rate at a 17-year-low of and consumer confidence stronger, analysts project healthy sales increases for November and December. Analysts at Bain say Amazon is expected to take half of the season's sales growth.
Associated Press reporters David Rising in Berlin, Frances D'Emilio in Rome, Thomas Adamson in Paris, Chris Carola in Albany, New York, Rick Callahan in Indianapolis, John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, Jonathan Mattise in Nashville, Jeff Baenen in Minneapolis, Tatiana Flowers in Denver, Rachel D'Oro in Anchorage, Alaska, and Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami contributed to this report.