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(NECN/CNN: Karin Caifa, Washington) - Black Friday brought out the worst in some shoppers, with a number of incidents blemishing the traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
Bargain-hunters are behaving badly, and, in some cases, criminally.
A rash of incidents put a black eye on Black Friday -- one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
At this Los Angeles-area Wal-Mart, witnesses say one woman used pepper spray to make her way through a crowd.
“As we were passing through, a woman in a black hoodie decided to wave out and spray at the same time some pepper spray,” said witness Anna Recalde.
The woman then paid for her merchandise, and left the store.
And in Fayetteville, North Carolina gun shots were fired at a mall as shoppers arrived for early morning sales. No one was hurt.
What's behind the bad behavior? One psychologist says it's the current economy meeting competitive instincts.
“What happens is, when we have this kind of advertising, and the retailers use these incredible sales -- 40, 50, 60 ,70 percent off - people at times can't help themselves,” said clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere.
Two men at a Wal-Mart jewelry counter in Kissimmee, Florida couldn't keep their control. This video shows officers dealing with the aftermath of their Black Friday fight.
But it wasn't mayhem at every mall. Like this one, in Arlington, Virginia, where traffic was relatively light in the early morning hours. And that could give retailers a different cause for alarm.
Black Friday sales provide retailers with valuable insight about the next few weeks. And when consumers seem too eager for big discounts, or simply browse sales, it could be a sign that they're hesitant about spending.