More so than during last year’s post-Thanksgiving rush, people jammed stores early, with more than a few testy shoppers scuffling in a rush to grab coveted, limited-quantity bargains.

Several major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) – Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Macy’s (NYSE:FD) ‘ as well as mall operator Taubman Centers Inc. (NYSE:TCO) estimated they drew bigger crowds for the official holiday season launch compared with last year.

Lena Michaud, spokeswoman at Target Corp., which had a strong holiday season a year ago, said traffic was at least as heavy.

Online shopping seems to be picking up.