The Mall of America, which joined a growing trend this year by opening its doors at midnight on Black Friday, said that its decision to open early resulted in record crowds.
The Bloomington mega mall said that it welcomed more than 15,000 shoppers at its midnight opening-"generating the largest opening of any Black Friday in the history of the mall."
By 10 a.m., 81,000 guests had walked through the mall's doors. The Associated Press reported that the mall saw roughly 210,000 visitors throughout the day on Friday, up from 200,000 last year.
Three-hundred Black Friday visitors collectively received cash and prizes totaling $30,000; participants lined up in hopes of being selected to take a photo of one of 100 quick response, or QR codes, on the mall's floor using smartphones. Participants were then directed to a Web page that revealed their prizes.
Additional codes will be placed on food court tables, digital signage, and on the back of guest service staff T-shirts. Guests can snap the codes until December 23, and a winner of a "$1,000 shopping spree" will be notified on Christmas Eve.
In other Black Friday news, the Associated Press reported that the shopping event was a success for most retailers, with overall retail sales nationwide up 7 percent over last year. Buyers reportedly spent $11.4 billion at retail stores and malls, up almost $1 billion from last year, according to information from Chicago-based ShopperTrak, which gathered data from 25,000 stores across the United States.
According to Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), however, Midwesterners didn't contribute as much as the rest of the country to this year's holiday shopping frenzy. Citing a survey by the National Retail Federation, MPR reported that Midwest shoppers spent less than those from any other region of the country this holiday weekend-doling out an average of $382, compared to an average of $432 in the Northeast, where shoppers spent the most.