In some places around the country - including a few spots in North Carolina - Black Friday turned into an elbow-throwing, pepper-spraying, gun-firing frenzy. In the Triangle, not so much.
A bad economy, fewer blockbuster discounts and a staggering of store opening times all contributed to what veteran shoppers say was less chaos and smaller-than-normal crowds at many Triangle stores.
"Most of the time, it's really packed, like, you can barely get in stores," said Brittany Pearson, 22, as she took a break from shopping in North Raleigh's Triangle Town Center at about 8 a.m. Friday. "It's not as packed but they're also not as big of deals. Last year I started at 9 a.m. and it was busy."
The story was the same at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham.
Stephanie Hamrick and her daughter Elizabeth, both of Siler City, said the crowds at The Streets at Southpoint in Durham weren't as bad as they expected.
"I guess everyone came early, got tired and went home," she said.
Many retailers moved up their store openings this year - to the chagrin of some employees - and shoppers followed right along.
Hundreds of people waited in line Thanksgiving night outside both Toys R Us and Best Buy at Crossroads Plaza in Cary.
The toy retailer opened at 9 p.m. Thursday, or three hours before Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's and Target.
Ahmed Melegy, 18, arrived at Toys R Us shortly before 9 p.m. expecting to be able to wait in the car and then quickly get in. Stuck in line with hundreds ahead of him, Melegy said he preferred it when stores opened at 5 a.m. and fewer people were awake.
"That meant you had to really want it to be here," he said.
With no other family in town, Alicia Petry, 24, and Steve Sieminkewicz, 25, decided at the last minute to wait in line to purchase an Xbox video game console.
"We haven't had Thanksgiving dinner," Petry said. "We'll have it tomorrow."
The long lines appeared to be limited to stores that were offering steep discounts on a limited number of big-ticket items, such as televisions and video game consoles.
It was a crowd waiting to buy electronics at a Kinston Walmart that lead to the holiday's first shopping fray, according to an Associated Press report.
To quell a disturbance among the restless group around midnight an off-duty police officer working security shot a burst of pepper spray into the air to disperse the crowd, according to AP's report.
And in Fayetteville, around 2 a.m., gunshots were fired at Cross Creek Mall. Police there weren't sure what lead to the shooting and were still looking for the suspects, according to AP.
But in the Triangle most people had little to complain of - except perhaps overspending.
Maria Jimenez of Apex, shopping her first Black Friday ever - with two teen girls in tow - said "some lines were crazy" at some of the Streets at Southpoint shops they hit.
Jimenez said the group focused their efforts on places with big sales, like Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, which she revisited four times throughout the day.
Many shoppers said that part of the problem retailers' face is that the deals offered up on Black Friday don't look all that special.
"They've been having Black Friday deals for the last week," said Stephanie Hairr, 39, of Fuquay-Varina. "I think that's all to do with the economy."
Hairr and her sister started shopping at 3:30 a.m. With her husband unemployed, Hairr pared back her spending this year to just $40.
"If not, I'll overspend, and I can't do that," she said. Still, even though this year offered up fewer discounts, Hairr wasn't ready to write off future Black Fridays.
"I'll still come," she said. "If I can get a good deal."
And, of course, many will still be shopping on Saturday.
Charlotte Harris, owner of Charlotte's Jewelry and Gifts in Cameron Village in Raleigh, said her store usually sees its biggest crowds the Saturday after Black Friday. Those crowds could be even bigger this weekend, which has been designated Small Business Saturday to encourage people to shop locally-owned retailers.
Hadley Nixon, owner of women's clothing boutique Hadley Emerson in Chapel Hill, said last year she was busy on Black Friday but had a quiet Saturday after.
"I'm hoping people have some more confidence in where things are headed," she said.