Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and the traditional start of the all-important Christmas shopping season. Retailers celebrate the day with discounts and, this year, extra early opening hours, with both Macy's and Best-Buy raising their shutters at 10pm on Thursday. Toys R Us went for 9pm.

retailer: 零售商;传播的人

Macy's: 梅西百货(美国的一个连锁百货公司)

Best-Buy: 百思买集团

Toys R Us: 玩具反斗城

An estimated 152m people – almost half the population – were estimated to have passed through checkouts, spending upwards of $50bn (£31bn), according a survey by the National Retail Federation.

checkout: 检验;签出;结帐台;检出

This was up 2.8pc on last year and gives some hope that despite crippling unemployment, the American consumer is still willing to spend.

cripple: 跛的;残废的

However, such was the enthusiasm in parts of the country, shoppers resorted to violence to bag the best bargains.

resort to: 依靠,求助于;诉诸;常去

bag: 猎获;把…装入袋中

Authorities in Los Angeles said that 20 people suffered minor injuries at a Wal-Mart when a woman used pepper spray on rival shoppers to get to the front of the queue when the store opened.

Wal-Mart: 沃尔玛

pepper spray: 胡椒喷雾剂;胡椒粉喷笔;防狼喷雾

Gunfire was reported at one shopping mall in North Carolina. And at a Wal-Mart store in upstate New York, a man was arrested after two women were injured in a fight that broke out.

Many analysts suggested that however illogical it seemed, it was important that the heavily indebted American consumer carried on spending. Marshal Cohen, retail analyst at NPD group, a research company, said: "There is no stimulus package, there is no jobs programme, there is no tax rebate that the president's put on the table, so it's really up to the consumer to go toe the line themselves."

stimulus package:刺激计划

tax rebate:退税

toe the line:听从;准备起跑

Black Friday was first used by police in Philadelphia in the 1960s to describe the massive crowds and traffic jams that hit the sales after Thanksgiving. It wasn't until the 1980s that an alternative theory started to appear, suggesting that it was the day that marked retailers moving from the red to the black, as they started made profits for the first time in the year.

Some British retailers have attempted to replicate some of the frenzy, by launching discounts this weekend to take advantage of many workers receiving their last pay packet before Christmas. PC World and Currys has an online sale, while Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and New Look are all discounting products until Monday.

pay packet:工资袋;薪水

Marks & Spencer:玛莎百货(英国最大服装零售商)


New Look:新风貌;新风采(Dior)