SoCal shoppers pounce on Black Friday deals

CERRITOS, Calif. The shopping got off to a bumpy start in Cerritos, where sheriff's deputies had to be called out after a fight broke out at the Los Cerritos Center mall.

The shopping center was placed on semi-lockdown after a group of six shoppers were involved in a fight around 6 a.m. in the food court during the mall's "Midnight Madness" event, officials said.

Some witnesses reported hearing gunshots, but authorities confirmed that the loud noises were caused by chairs or shelves hitting the floor.

"Chairs were thrown around, and there was a fight," said shopper Joseph Climacko. "I'm guessing that's what was going on, but it's not cool because people bring their kids and you come to a mall and you don't expect to bump into something like that. You come to shop."

The fight instigators left the mall before law enforcement arrived. Mall security was boosted to accommodate the influx of shoppers on /*Black Friday*/.

At an Old Navy store in Downey, many shoppers were upset after a promotion for a free Xbox game went awry. According to a district manager for the retail chain, the first 100 people who spend $25 were to receive a free game.

However, when the doors opened at midnight, a crowd of people tried to rush the doors all at once, causing a safety hazard. Store workers closed the doors as a precaution and police were called to calm three particularly unruly customers.

In the Inland Empire, cost-conscious shoppers crowded the Redlands Kohl's, which opened at 3 a.m., where no fights or rioting incidents were reported.

Shoppers said they were after bargains in jewelry, electronics and clothing items. Many came prepared with lists and coupons.

The Westfield Culver City shopping center also saw heavy foot traffic.

At the Pasadena Best Buy store, the first people to get through the doors had been waiting in line since Tuesday, hoping to score deals on pricy electronics.

The crowd did not get out of hand, and there was even a DJ set up in the back of the store to keep customers entertained.

At the Glendale Galleria, it looked like Christmas' past as upbeat shoppers filled the mall ready to spend money.

Bargain hunters also streamed into the outlet stores in Camarillo, which offered even deeper discounts on Black Friday.

There was a way to avoid high-stress shopping on Black Friday.

With less foot traffic and ample parking, small businesses around the Southland were a welcomed alternative to the frenzied malls.

With 15 million Americans still unemployed, spending has yet to return to prerecession levels. But some shoppers said they're getting more comfortable pulling out their wallets these days.

"I've saved up a few paychecks, so I'm going to blow $300 to $500," said Playa del Rey resident Scott Hieatt.

The National Retail Federation said 138 million Americans were expected to hit the shops this Black Friday.

Consumers began shopping earlier in the day Thursday compared with a year earlier. And the average order was $182.74, up from $159.81 on last year's Thanksgiving Day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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