TODAY   |  November 24, 2012

Did Black Friday live up to the hype?

The familiar crush of shoppers flocked to stores on Black Friday. Though sales drew crowds to malls and shopping centers, many browsed from the safety of their homes, with online sales up as much as 20 percent. NBC’s Michelle Franzen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> is in new york city 's herald square outside macy's flagship store .

>> reporter: good morning, carl. shoppers will be back out in force this saturday looking for a whole new round of deals. that following a wave of black friday sprees that began early. just as the thanksgiving feast was wrapping up, the most important days of this holiday season drew crowds, but not necessarily more numbers compared to last year. still retailers say they like what they see. off and running. the familiar crush of shoppers flocked to stores in search of bargains and those must-have gifts, including clothes and electronics.

>> just on the tv, you're saving more than half of it. it's affordable right now, even if you have to be out here for two days to get it.

>> reporter: at a walmart in georgia, cell phone video posted on youtube captured a frenzy of shoppers pushing, grabbing and diving into case of prepaid cell phones . and in kansas, the crowds swelled and swooned as the gate to this victoria's secret store finally opened. the start to this holiday shopping season was like no other, with black friday sales kicking off a day early on thanksgiving.

>> i don't know what else i can do some damage with, but i'm going to find out.

>> reporter: sears, walmart, target, toys 'r' us and come opened their doors, catering to customers' wishes and stoking sales.

>> we had the best black friday ever at walmart.

>> reporter: but the new spin on an american tradition also sparked controversy. walmart employees organized nationwide walkouts at dozens of stores.

>> where is family values anymore?

>> reporter: and target employees posted online petitions against working on thanksgiving, the early start to black friday, analysts say, is a mixed bag.

>> the trend is every year, black friday seems to get earlier. the promotions seem to get larger. the freebies seem to get larger. so i think that is the trend and who knows, next year we might not even have a thanksgiving.

>> reporter: black friday accounts for about 10% of holiday sales and marks an important dance between retailers and shoppers during the biggest shopping season of the year. and so far, it appears consumers are up for the challenge.

>> it's rough. but it is all worth it at the end of the day when you're out here trying to save a couple dollars.

>> reporter: and it's not just about the brick-and-mortar stores. online sales are also showing a good start to this black friday. the sales are up as much as 20%, as more people shop at home or use their mobile devices . carl?

>> michelle franzen in new york, thanks so much.