Shoppers braved a dark and cold morning to find deals at Winnipeg's malls on Black Friday, but it was hardly a crush of consumers.

The biggest lineup at the stores in Polo Park Shopping Centre, which opened about two hours earlier than normal at 7 a.m., was at Forever 21.

Some 80 to 100 people waited outside the doors to the trendy clothing retailer while neighbouring stores had no lines at all.

Shoppers line up

People line up to get into the Forever 21 clothing store at Winnipeg's Polo Park Shopping Centre on Friday. (Trevor Dineen/CBC)

"It's gone from, you know, a few people to probably like a couple of days before Christmas," CBC videographer Sara Calnek said when the activity picked up by around 9:30 a.m.

"The amount of people who have walked through these doors is just unbelievable. It's just buzzing, this place."

As the day went on, some shoppers emerged with bags full of bargains for themselves and others.

"This one has sweaters, boots. I got makeup, presents for friends and some more sweaters," said Cassidy Price, who estimated she spent around $200 or $250.

Brittney Commeault said she compared prices online and in the United States before deciding to shop close to home.

"When I was doing some research, still the States is better, I think, just from what I've seen," she said.

Polo Park

There was plenty of room at Polo Park Shopping Centre on Friday. (Sara Calnek/CBC)

"But I think here is getting better because they want to keep everybody here."

Some retailers said on this day last year — the first year for local Black Friday sales — they made as much revenue as they do in a normal week at Christmas time.

Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season and helps push businesses into the "black", meaning they begin making their profits for the year.

The sale day is much more intense in the United States, where hundreds of people pour into stores as soon as the doors open. In the past, people have been trampled and fights have broken out.

Buy Nothing Day is also today

While shopping malls are packed with frenzied shoppers on Black Friday, some are doing the exact opposite as part of Buy Nothing Day, which is also on Friday.

The Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, which promotes fair trade, is calling on shoppers to think about what they are buying.

"If we're going to buy stuff, and when we're going to buy something, we stop and think where our money is actually going. Who makes the product, what are the conditions that the workers are working in?" said Janice Hamilton, the council's executive director.

Hamilton said polling conducted by the council suggests more Manitobans are buying less, and more people are thinking about what they are buying before they pay for it.

"Think about the issue of over-consumption and, you know, trying to maybe shift lifestyle commitments to, you know, consuming less and producing less waste," she said.

Cyber Monday comes with warnings

While shoppers are flocking to malls and stores in Winnipeg on Friday, a large number of them are expected to log on in a few days for Cyber Monday.

The event sees major deals offered by a variety of retailers worldwide for consumers willing to buy online.

But the Province of Manitoba issued a warning to consumers on Friday, cautioning them against making purchases that could put them at risk of fraud.

Provincial officials said Manitobans should make sure they are using a secure site before releasing any of their data. Checking for a secure icon, typically represented by a lock, in your browser can help and using sites with a prefix https:// rather than http:// can help ensure you’re accessing a safe site, according to officials.

Provincial officials also warned consumers to research a company or seller before making a purchase.