SANTA FE SPRINGS – Jerry Alvarado secured a coveted spot at the head of a line of more than 800 shoppers waiting for the Wal-Mart in Santa Fe Springs to open at 5 a.m Friday.To do so, he arrived at 5 p.m. Thursday.With a few friends, Alvarado camped outside the front doors, with a shopping cart nearby and blankets to keep warm.“We kept each other company through the night,” said the 22-year-old Santa Fe Springs resident, who held a ticket entitling him to a laptop computer that employees gave to the first 35 shoppers in line.Los Angeles-area malls overflowed with shoppers Friday, many of them bargain hunters who woke up before dawn and headed to malls and stores on what is called “Black Friday,” the traditional start of the holiday season and one of the busiest shopping days of the year.Holiday sales could top $439.5 billion, retail officials said. The average consumer is expected to spend $738 this season on gifts, decorations, cards, candy and food, according to the National Retail Federation.Some retailers opened as early as midnight Friday to give shoppers an early start. Other retailers offered gift certificates, prizes and other perks for early shoppers.More than 100,000 people were expected Friday at the Glendale Galleria. At the South Coast Plaza, more than 2,500 shoppers were outside the doors of Robinsons-May when it opened at 6 a.m., plaza spokeswoman Debra Gunn Downing told KCAL9.At the Wal-Mart in Santa Fe Springs, the crowd flooded into the store and headed toward the electronics department, where computers could be had for $398 and recordable DVD players were going for about $80 a piece.People could be heard yelling over the din, instructing family members to grab video games, Gameboys, slow-cook roasters and other items.“It’s a madhouse back there,” said Henry Redondo, who lucked out and got a ticket for a laptop computer, after another early shopper changed her mind about buying it.Fermin Acevedo was one of the first to get in – and out after finding everything he needed. He had waited in line since 8 p.m. Thursday, so when the doors finally swung open, he was ready.“I knew where the stuff I wanted was,” the 42-year-old Santa Fe Springs resident said, carrying out a recordable DVD player and a portable DVD player for his wife. “I went through the clothing department to get around the crowd.”Because sales in November and December can account for half of a store’s annual sales and profits, the day after Thanksgiving has come to be known as Black Friday – when the bottom line moves out of the red and into the black.The recent dip in fuel prices prompted the National Retail Federation to revise upward, from 5 percent to 6 percent, its projection for holiday sales.“This will go down as one of the earliest and most promotional Black Fridays in history,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO. “Many stores opened earlier than ever before and retailers offered unbelievable sales and discounts to get people shopping.”Last year, shoppers spent $22.8 billion on holiday gifts the weekend after Thanksgiving.Jack Kyser of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. projected sales in Southern California to grow 6 percent to 9 percent.Last year, sales grew 6.7 percent national, according to the National Retail Federation. [email protected](562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026 AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!