SHOP AND AWE

by John Breneman

Despite scattered reports of violence, U.S. shoppers sustained minimal

casualties during the first few days of the holiday shopping blitz that

began last Friday.

But rampant consumerism turned deadly at a Wal-Mart in Kentucky yesterday

when two shoppers were slain by a heavily armed Robosapien, a remote-control

robot that is one of this year’s hottest gifts. Police are trying to

determine whether the toy acted alone or was operated by a disgruntled

human.

The death toll now stands at three — a Texas tot was crushed by a giant

SpongeBob SquarePants — but analysts say it could climb as determined

consumers battle for coveted items under the pressure of a Dec. 25 deadline.

The annual battle to purchase material goods for Jesus’s birthday began the

day after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) with a coordinated pre-dawn

assault on the nation’s retailers.

Bargain-hunting consumers coast-to-coast mobbed the nearest Wal-Mart and

mauled their local malls, displaying a fierce Toys R Us vs. Them mentality

while doing an estimated $80 billion in damage to their bank accounts.

Authorities say some of the heaviest skirmishes took place at strife-torn

Circuit City.

Other injuries sustained during the barrage of transactions:

— A Pennsylvania woman took some plastic shrapnel from two shopping carts

involved in a high-speed crash at Sears.

— Six shoppers were flattened while trying to grab the last $139

flat-screen TV at a New Jersey electronics store. One lost a lot of blood

and needed a transfusion of fresh high-density plasma.

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