There was a time when the Friday after Thanksgiving was just another day on the calendar, and, oh yes, the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Then the media started hyping it with live TV coverage of eager shoppers lining up hours before opening time to get first crack at the highly discounted bargains.

In a few years, that day went from a fun day for shoppers to Black Friday for the businesses that have come to depend on the crowds and high volume sales to keep them "in the black" financially.

It's become so competitive that it's getting crazy and even violent out there.

It's gone beyond simple aisle-bumping, line-cutting, and parking lot rudeness.  This year's Black Friday saw more mayhem than ever as hordes of competitive shoppers growled and fought over waffle irons and Xboxes, with altercations turning violent in at least seven states.

In Los Angeles, a woman pepper-sprayed at least 20 fellow shoppers to save some money on an Xbox console, paying up and getting out before cops arrived.

In Ohio and Michigan, women "came out swinging" over discounted bath towels. The results were at times serious, with several shootings reported and one confrontation ending with a grandfather lying bloodied and unconscious.

In West Virginia, a 61 year old man had a heart attack and collapsed while shopping at a Target store. Witnesses say some shoppers ignored and even stepped over the man as they continued to shop. The man died later at a hospital.

via Black Friday violence: Competitive shopping's troubling new edge - CSMonitor.com.

There are signs of a backlash against the craziness, as more and more stores are saying it has become more trouble than it's worth.

More and more appalled shoppers say they want nothing to do with it and are waiting till the week after Thanksgiving to start their holiday shopping.

Is it possible that Black Friday has "jumped the shark" and has gone past the point of diminishing returns?  We can only hope.