With earlier-than-ever deals and 147 million people expected to hit the stores this holiday weekend, retailers such as Best Buy are taking extra steps to avoid the Black Friday shopper chaos -- and inevitable news stories -- of the past.
Best Buy officials said they've been prepping for the madness for days.
The retailer has created color-coded maps, moved merchandise around to ease congestion and held a dry run so that its employees can get practice.
"[We want to] get people in safely and out safely," said Jay Buchanan, a Best Buy employee. The goal is to get them "through the lines quick, fast and in a hurry so they can get what they need."
In Bloomington, Minn., the Mall of America extended its ban on young people younger than 16 shopping without an adult during the weekend evenings to Black Friday.
At the Arden Fair Mall in Sacramento, Calif., security planned to place barricades at the mall entrance to control the crowds and officials planned to double the number of security officers.
In Los Angeles, the police were putting hundreds of extra officers on foot, on horseback and in the air to monitor shopping crowds.
"It seems like Black Friday's become bigger and bigger as the years have gone by," said Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andrew Smith. "What we've seen across the country are huge problems with crowds. They just forget about everyday courtesy and sometimes go nuts."
According to today's news reports, though, things were already getting out of hand.
When a south Sacramento, Calif., K-Mart opened its doors at 6 a.m. today, a shopper in a line of people that had formed nearly two hours earlier reportedly threatened to stab the people around him.
And at two K-Marts in Indianapolis, police officers were called in after fights broke out among shoppers trying to score vouchers for a 32-inch plasma TV going for less than $200.
"When you have large crowds of people, control is the most important thing," Steve Reed, a security officer at the Arden Fair Mall, told ABC News affiliate News 10. "You want them [customers] to be able to get in the mall without getting trampled and having issues of any kind happening to them. That's really important for us."
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