It's a sign of the times that consumers battered by a recovery that has boosted corporate profits but has done little to raise their own bottom lines are reduced to scrapping over basic bathroom supplies.
The retailer announced it had sold 2.8 million towels during the shopping event, which this year started even earlier at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The textile sales outpaced the 300,000 bicycles, 1.4 million tablets, and 2 million televisions sold during the period, and also beat last year's towel sales by 1 million.
For $1.74, bath towels and six packs of washcloths were available. That breaks down to $.29 per washcloth.
"We've seen at-home items like towels and sheets and even Rubbermaid Tupperware become popular on Black Friday at our stores," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Deisha Barnett. "A lot of people are either hosting guests for the weekend or preparing for guests for the holiday season."
Reports of physical struggles to snag the deals lit up on social media.
One YouTube video showed 15-20 shoppers at a Wal-Mart in Bloomingdale, Ill., held at bay by a police officer and three Wal-Mart employees until the store gave the signal to start on Thursday.