Central Florida bargain shoppers flock to stores on Black Friday seeking 'deals and steals'

Black Friday kicks off the beginning of the holiday shopping season.

Thousands of shoppers flocked to Central Florida the day after Thanksgiving in search of a good deal.

"My money went all down already," laughed Pedro Campos. "I’m done. I’m done for the day!"

Spending is expected to reach record levels this holiday season. Sales are estimated to grow between 3% and 4% over last year’s numbers, according to the National Retail Federation. Unfortunately, it’s also a time when criminals look for easy targets.

Tracie Turner Jackson said she is not one of them.


"I’ve been out here all day… some great deals, I’ve just been having a great time," Turner Jackson said. "When it comes to safety, I don’t play, and I carry… so they don’t wanna try me!"

Savvy shoppers like Jeffrey Harper said they are making sure to stay safe this holiday season – dropping cash, but not the ball.

"You got to stay on point," Harper said. "You got your pocketbook, keep it close to you. Your phone, keep it in your pocket. Go to your destination, that’s it. Don’t be looking around. Just go where you gotta go, get in your car, and make sure everything is good and take off."

For those who opt to shop online, safety is important too – not just for Cyber Monday, but beyond.

Experts advise you to make sure you are shopping on a secure and reputable website. Before you enter your credit card or other financial information, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends checking the website address starting with "https." According to the FTC, the "s" stands for "secure", meaning credit card information is encrypted before it’s transmitted. 

The FTC also recommends paying by credit card, as it gives you more protection over other methods.