More consumers throughout the country are trekking to malls and shops to take advantage of super savings as part of this year's Black Friday, and in the process, causing a ruckus.

The longer lines, heavier traffic and filled up parking lots at shopping centers are confirming reports by industry analysts that predict a 3.5 percent spike in sales over last year.

Stores having been

pushing their hours back to 4 or 5 a.m. and in some cases midnight, to accommodate increasingly aggressive shoppers.

To avoid a repeat of a 2008 stampede that led to the death of Jdimytai Damou, an employee at a Walmart in Valley Stream, New York, the store consulted with “crowd-management experts” and installed prison-like metal barricades in the stores to keep customers in toe.

So far, the shopping there has been smooth sailing.

But that's not the case at stores in other regions.

In the Southland, the Los Cerritos Mall had to be put in a lockdown early this morning after a brawl broke out in the food court. Operations are back to normal.

Also earlier today, a woman in Wisconsin was arrested for allegedly threatening to shoot up a local Toys R Us in Madison, after pissing off shoppers for daring to cut in line.

And in Buffalo, New York, customers started dog-piling on top of each other after the doors opened, sending one person to the hospital.

At a time when the world is crumbling, Brits are rioting to keep education costs low and Chinese high school students are protesting high meal prices, these Black Friday incidences are downright absurd and embarrassing.

Times are tough and we can all use a discount here and there.

But do we really need to be risking life and limb for that marked-down sweater set or latest Nintendo Wii edition?

Or bum rushing each other for that inexpensive laptop?

Those unwilling to get sucked in the consumer frenzy are participating in the “Buy Nothing Day,” and international day of protest against over consumerism.

The holiday, which was conjured up by Canadians eight years ago, urges people to hang up their bags and not purchase anything else for the next 24 hours.

No gas for your car, no cream for your coffee, no nothing.

According to Adbusters, folks in 324 cities, including Los Angeles, are doing it.

This morning, participants planned to crash a Pasadena mall and dress up like zombies and other zany things that don't involve shopping.

Think of it as rehab for your wallet.

LA Weekly