LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- Black Friday shoppers flocked to Southern California malls, seeking big deals. Some headed out before dawn while others got a head start on Thanksgiving.

Many stores opened their doors at midnight or in the early morning hours Friday.

Sales figures for the 2010 holiday are expected to be good, according to some experts, but not great. Still, "good" would be a vast improvement over two years of dismal holiday sales.

The holiday season is critical to many retailers. Combined November-December sales can account for as much as 50% of stores' sales and profits for the full year.

Sales in those two months fell 3.9% in 2008 and rose an anemic 0.4% last year. The forecast this year is for sales to increase 2.3%, according to the National Retail Federation.

Sears opened its doors on Thanksgiving for the first time in its 124-year history. K-Mart also hoped to reel in the early Black Friday shoppers with Thanksgiving hours.

Kohl's opened at 3 a.m. Friday for those extreme early bird bargain hunters.

In Cerritos, an early mall opening was followed by a brawl between six shoppers. A portion of the shopping center was briefly placed on lock down.

Many stores were also offering the same Black Friday deals on their websites.

Secondhand stores like the Salvation Army and Goodwill were giving Black Friday a try too, betting that people who bought more used things for themselves during the Great Recession will consider buying used gifts this year.

Many shoppers camped out ahead of the in-store deals. Some campers in Palmdale dealt with below-freezing temperatures in the days leading up to the big rush.