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Walmart says Black Friday "best ever" despite walk-out threat

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Fears that some Walmart employees would walk off the job on the busiest shopping day of the year came and went Friday as the world's largest retailer reported its "best ever" Black Friday.

The Bentonville, Arkansas based Walmart Corporation said Friday that its crowds were larger than in 2011 and thanked its 1.3 million employees, called "associates", for going forward with a long-planned sales event to kick off the holidays.

Threats to derail the company's plans came from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) which seeks to unionize Walmart's workforce. Walmart has fought such efforts to unionize for years. Last week, the company filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board to stop the UFCW's attempts to encourage employee walk-outs.

"Only 26 protests occurred at stores last night and many of them did not include any Walmart associates," Walmart President and CEO Bill Simon said. "We estimate that less than 50 associates participated in the protest nationwide. In fact, this year, roughly the same number of associates missed their scheduled shift as last year," Simon added.

Simon said the company saw approximately 22 million customers on Thursday and sold more than 250,000 bicycles, 1.3 million dolls, 1.3 million televisions and 1.8 million towels since 8pm on Thanksgiving.

"We had very safe and successful Black Friday events at our stores across the country and heard overwhelmingly positive feedback from our customers," Simon said.

Walmart's Black Friday plan called for three events this year: Sales at 8pm, 10pm and 5am during which times the company said traffic was brisk. The company says it rang up nearly 5,000 items per second during that time frame.

Walmart's profit was up in 3Q, but sales in a sluggish economy fell below Wall Street's expectations.

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