Millions of Americans across the country are heading out to shopping malls and discount stores to begin their holiday shopping Friday.
The day after Thanksgiving is known in U.S. retail trade as "Black Friday," the day on which merchants' accounts often move from red to black each year. Holiday sales account for nearly one-quarter of annual profits in the United States.
The U.S. National Retail Federation estimates about 130 million shoppers will be out nationwide today. It says the average American consumer plans to spend more than $700 on gifts this holiday season. Big-screen televisions, DVD players, video-game equipment and digital cameras are among the most popular items.
Some analysts say higher energy prices may have many shoppers on a tighter budget this year, but other experts predict solid sales.
Some information for this report provided by AP.