U.S. shoppers defy economic blues on 'Black Friday'
by Luis Torres De La Liosa
New York, AFP

  Shoppers in the United States brushed off some gloomy economic forecasts and rushed into stores during the Thanksgiving Day weekend kicking off one of the busiest U.S. shopping periods of the year.
  While economists have suggested this year's holiday season will likely see only a small increase in takings over last year due to weak consumer confidence, there was little sign of depressed sales on New York's streets.
  "I was up at two-thirty this morning to shop." said Kim Melise, 22, a New Yorker who was struggling to get into Bloomingdale's department store with his arms already weighed down by bags of shopping.
  Melise was one of those taking advantage of the special offers, despite the threat of a looming recession and a crunch in the housing and credit markets.
  While some sales staff reported less of a crush than last year, most said they had hot noticed reduced takings at the sales registers, with many reporting increased demand from European buyers attracted by the weak dollar.
  "We arrived yesterday, did all our shopping for Christmas and will be back home on Monday," said Rachel Brown, a 33-year-old from Wales shopping with a friend and struggling with a load of bargains.
  Les White, 51, from London, left one of the world's other great shopping capitals to visit the Big Apple with his wife.
  "We shopped as much as we could," said White, waiting in a line of 50 people wanting to pick up a reduced-price iPod at the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue, which was already packed at 11:00 a.m.
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