"Save Money. Live Better." That's the promise of Walmart. But you might live better-and longer-if you didn't visit the mega retailer on Black Friday.
Thanks to most employers, Americans traditionally have the fourth Thursday and Friday in November off to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thursday people stuff themselves with turkey and Friday they shop 'til they drop for the next holiday: Christmas.
Friday evening's news and Saturday's newspapers were filled with stories about customers acting like animals on America's favorite shopping day. Walmart, with almost 4,000 stores in the United States (and perhaps statistically bound to have the most problems on Black Friday), opened its doors on Thursday, ahead of most other retailers, but the earlier opening didn't keep incidents from happening at locations across the country:
On Thanksgiving night, Walmart employees in Los Angeles brought out a crate of discounted Xbox video game consoles, and as a crowd waited for the popular item to be unwrapped, a woman fired pepper spray at the other shoppers "in order to get an advantage," according to police.
Ten people suffered cuts and bruises in the chaos, and 10 others had minor injuries from the spray, authorities said. The woman got away in the confusion, and it was not immediately clear whether she got an Xbox or not.
Meanwhile, police in suburban Phoenix came under fire when a video was posted online showing a 54-year-old grandfather on the floor of a Walmart store with a bloody face. According to police, the man was subdued Thursday night trying to shoplift during a chaotic rush for discounted video games.
On Friday morning, police reported that two women were injured and a man was charged with assault after a fight broke out at an upstate New York Walmart. Meanwhile, at a Walmart in Kissimmee, Fla., a man was arrested in a scuffle at a jewelry counter.
Near Muskegon, Mich., a teenage girl was knocked down and stepped on several times after getting caught in the rush to a sale in the electronics department at the local Walmart. She suffered minor injuries.
A Walmart shopper in San Leandro, Calif., was shot when he resisted a group of armed robbers trying to steal his family's purchases in the store's parking lot, authorities said. He was hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
Christians have long complained that Christ's birth has lost its place as the "reason for the season," with Christmas being more and more about buying "stuff." And Black Friday intensifies that mindset, offering shoppers not just one-day-only deals, but also one-hour-only offers, bargains that many shoppers are willing to fight-if not kill-for.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.