preferring to do their bargain-hunting online - but there were still plenty of people queuing up around the world for the start of the annual discount day.
In New York, shops including Macy's opened early for the Black Friday sales
Shoppers in London waited for Game to open for Black Friday
Are today's discounts actually all about shifting products that shoppers aren't buying?
James Daunt, the boss of book chain Waterstones, doesn't think so. "This is as much about retail theatre," he says.
"We want to get people in our shops and enjoying themselves, and when they do that they're liable to pick up things they might not otherwise have done."
But you can't trick customers into buying something that isn't good value, he adds.
"The savvy and clever shopper who's buying things they want will get the good deal."