Workers from the large American retailer Walmart have defied management to stage a series of strikes and demonstrations over pay and conditions, on what is usually the busiest shopping day of the year.
They accused the company of trying to gag them. Walmart has played down the protest’s significance.
Retailers across the US have been concentrating on the “Black Friday” post-holiday rush after Thanksgiving.
Fewer Americans were expected to go shopping compared to last year, down from 152 million to 147 million according to the National Retail Federation.
However the sales are still a huge attraction for many, and the run-up to Christmas is the most important time of the year for retailers.
Some stores opened earlier than usual, on Thursday night. Despite the crisis, electronics goods and toys were expected to disappear quickly from the shelves.
“We’ve seen that in good times and bad the last thing parents cut back on is a holiday present for their kids. So even in the depths of the recession in 2008-2009 our sales grew during the holiday period, and so we feel that toy sales are somewhat independent of the economic situation in the US,” said Terry Lundgren, Chief Executive of Toys R Us.
Some surveys show a large increase in online sales – up by 15-20 per cent compared to last year.