U.S. Black Friday shopping marked by thinner crowds, protests | Reuters

WEST HARTFORD, Conn./CHICAGO Mall crowds were relatively thin on Black Friday in a sign of what has become the new normal in U.S. holiday shopping: the mad rush is happening the night of Thanksgiving and more consumers are picking up deals online.

Across the United States, shoppers were greeted by protesters at hundreds of stores - some calling for higher wages at Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), others protesting the decision of a grand jury not to indict a white police officer in the August shooting of an 18-year-old unarmed black man in Ferguson, Missouri.

Most major retailers now open Thursday evening and are extending holiday deals rather than limiting them to one day. The re