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Black Friday liveblog: Online deals or brick-and-mortar sales?

Sales tax may be hurting Amazon's bottom line, but overseas, online sales have been booming on similar shopping holidays.

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“Many of our associates have urged us to do something about the UFCW's latest round of publicity stunts,” Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg told the Monitor's Gloria Goodale. “They don't think it's right that a few associates that are being coerced by the UFCW are being portrayed by the media as representative of what it's like to work at Walmart.”

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The next few hours could begin to reveal just how narrow or broad the movement really is.

Updated 6:33 a.m.

Black Friday starts with a bang. From the Associated Press:

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Black Friday began with a bang in New Jersey — literally.

The U.S. Geological Survey's website says a 2.1-magnitude earthquake was measured near Clementon, about 15 miles southeast of Philadelphia in Camden County.

The quake was felt at a little after midnight.

It was the second earthquake to hit New Jersey this month. On Nov. 5, a 2.0-magnitude quake struck the Ringwood area in Passaic County.

Updated 6:07 a.m.

All the big chains have opened – either on Thanksgiving evening or in the wee hours of Friday, chipping away at one of the last bastions of family oriented holidays.

The apparent success of Walmart and other chains that opened early this Thanksgiving suggests that the desire for a deal trumps many Americans' desire to stay at home. So it will be interesting to see what happens to jcpenney, one of the few major chains to resist starting its Black Friday early. Its stores have just opened on the East Coast, an almost civilized time when most people might actually be close to waking up.

Among its Black Friday deals:

  • $5 kids pajama pants or tops
  • $8 crockpot, toaster oven or coffee pot
  • $10 Arizona skinny jeans
  • $12 men’s dress shirts
  • $25 women’s boots – over 50 styles  

"While we know that many of our competitors are opening on Thanksgiving, we want to honor the American tradition of Thanksgiving by giving our customers and team members the opportunity to spend this special day with family and friends," writes spokeswoman Sarah Holland in an e-mail.

But here's a thought: Could online shopping serve as a way for early shoppers to get their deals without having to take such a chunk of time out of family time (and sleep)?

The move to online shopping is already under way. While forecasts call for overall holiday shopping to grow only about 4 percent this year over 2011, online shopping is expected to increase by15 percent, Forrester Research forecasts.

" I think we're not too far off from seeing more people shopping online on Black Friday rather than in-stores, but retailers continually stumble out of the gates" with their web presence, writes Michael Brim, founder and CEO of the Black Friday deals watch site BFAds.net, in an e-mail. "Dell, who has an online-only Black Friday offering, was unusable almost immediately after starting their Black Friday sales. And while it's still possible to persevere and get the deals, the experience is anything less than pleasant."

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