There seems to be a calmer, gentler crowd of Black Friday shoppers this year as Abilene prepares for Christmas. There were still big gatherings outside stores, waiting for the best deals in town. Just not like in previous years. Does this mean holiday spending is down? Probably not. Now that stores are starting to offer their big deals on Thanksgiving night, fewer people are waking up early.

I was broadcasting live from Ashley Furniture Homestore on Southwest Drive as they opened at 7am on Black Friday. Plenty of people were waiting outside the store as I pulled into the parking lot about 20 minutes before opening. The security guard assigned to keep an eye on the parking lot told me there were people waiting for the store to open before he got there at 5am, and by the time the doors opened, there were around 50 people waiting in line. Not bad. The parking lot was pretty full.

Dave Wheaton

But a year ago at the same location, there were more than twice as many people waiting outside Ashley's, and according to store employees, last year's shoppers were far more irate and argumentative. One employee recalled two men in the middle of the store, yelling and near blows with each other over a flat screen television.

Credit the calmer, gentler Black Friday to rising internet sales (expected to increase 12% this year) and the fact that several stores opened Thursday night to offer customers earlier shots at the door buster deals.

I've never participated in Black Friday. Honestly, I can say that the thought of waking up, standing outside a store hours before it opens, then fighting fellow Black Friday shoppers to get the few deals set out for only the first few who get there. I've seen too many news reports showing surveillance cameras in the front door of national chains - the pushing and shoving and trampling - to want to participate. But after spending a morning observing the situation, mingling with customers, employees and security guard, I wouldn't be opposed to doing Black Friday next year. For the right deal.

Did you do Black Friday this year? What was your experience like?