[Update 9:40 am] A press release from Walmart reports that the retailer experienced the best Black Friday ever. Starting at 8 p.m., Walmart sold more than 1.8 million towels, 1.3 million televisions, 1.3 million dolls, and 250,000 bicycles.
Of course, we won't know for a few days if the Thanksgiving openings increased demand, or simply shifted sales to slightly earlier in the season. And even if retailers do see an improved bottom line this year, their success may have little to do with when they opened: According to the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, the share of American households who believe that the economy is improving is now at 37 percent, the highest since March 2002.
-- Eoin O'Carroll
Updated 7:40 a.m.
On Thursday evening, the Black Friday skirmishes began between Walmart and some of its employees.
Workers staged walkouts in stores in Dallas, Miami, and Kenosha, Wis., according to OUR Walmart, an employee group that's been agitating for better wages, benefits, and work schedules for more than a year. Workers also went on strike San Leandro, Calif., Clovis, N.M., Ocean City, Md., Orlando and St. Cloud, Fla., and Baton Rouge, La., The Nation reported early this morning.
Numerous Twitter posts suggest that overnight protests also hit other Walmart stores, as supporters of the strikers posted photos and messages online. In Wichita, Kan., about a dozen protesters gathered around signs and banners such as "Support Walmart Workers" and "People Before Profits."
"Denied entry to Walmart! Why try to silence us? Maybe because they're scared of us!" one strike supporter tweeted from Denver.