Marcela Lopez, her 4-year-old daughter and two friends got to Arundel Mills at 12:30 a.m. Friday and were just finishing up eight hours later.

"We're tired — very tired," said Lopez, resting on a bench with her sleeping daughter in her arms.

The mall in Hanover was packed when they started and less crowded than a typical weekend day by the end, with plenty of empty parking spaces.

Lopez, a housekeeper from Silver Spring, declared the full day of shopping worth it. Her purchases included a 32-inch flat screen television for $279.

Wendy Ellis, director of marketing and business development at Arundel Mills, said mall staffers gave T-shirts — "I came! I shopped! I saved!" — to the first 500 people through each of the seven mall entrances and ran out 10 minutes after the midnight opening. More than 7,000 sales fliers were handed out to customers during the first four hours, Ellis said.

She said she's used to seeing the mall get a big rush and then a lull on Black Friday, followed by an increase around lunchtime as shoppers who went home to sleep return.

Jamie Smith Hopkins

Scuffle ends some shoppers' days early

Not everybody was in the holiday spirit at Westfield Annapolis mall.

Long lines formed immediately after midnight in H&M, a clothing store offering big sales, and an altercation of some kind broke out among customers, the mall general manager Patrick Madden said.

Three patrons were escorted out of the mall as a result but were not arrested. Madden said he did not know what caused the dispute.

Black Friday, which began early for them, also ended early.

Susan Reimer

Opening the doors

In the Black Friday faceoff between "stay up late" and "get up early," stay up late appears to have won.

Westfield Annapolis mall general manager Patrick Madden said that in the hours between midnight and 3 a.m., the crowds were as large as the mall sees on the final Saturday before Christmas.

"Everyone thinks Black Friday is our biggest shopping day," said Madden. "But it is really the last Saturday before Christmas, and it was just wall-to-wall people."

People tapped their watches impatiently outside retailers who were waiting for the clock to tick past midnight. The busiest stores were American Eagle Outfitters, Banana Republic, Vera Bradley and Aeropostale, which were offering deep discounts for the first hour or so.

The crowds thinned to a trickle before dawn, but the parking lot in Annapolis was packed again by 8:30 a.m. as the crowds returned for a more normal shopping experience.

Wendy Zurenko and her daughter Casey, 16, and friend Jordan Rolley, 16, of Calvert County were among the early birds. By 6:30 a.m., they'd been to their car twice to drop off packages.