As the markets open on this half-day of trading, all three of the major indexes are higher as of 10:30 a.m. EST. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is up 118 points, or 0.92%, to 12,955. There is currently only one Dow component trading lower today. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC) is up about 13 points, or 0.9%. Lastly, the Nasdaq (NASDAQINDEX:^IXIC) is up 30 points, or 1%.

According to the National Retail Federation, sales are expected to increase just 4.1% this shopping season, compared with a 5.6% increase last year. The number of shoppers in this first week is also expected to be down from last year, when 152 million Americans ventured out into crowded shopping centers. This year it's expected that only 147 million shoppers will hit the stores.

Early reports of the sales numbers seem to be mixed. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) released a statement this morning reporting that so far this has been the company's best-ever Black Friday event. The retailer said it saw larger crowds and great responses to its new promotions. Shares of the retailer are up 1.15% this morning, even as negative news flows through the airwaves. Union representatives have organized protests at Wal-Marts across the country today. These demonstrations have been receiving lots of attention from the press, which may be why Wal-Mart published the positive Black Friday press release -- something the company has never done before.

Walt-Disney (NYSE:DIS), another Dow stock which has a large exposure to retail, is up a modest 0.5% today. Disney's iconic movie characters, the Marvel comic book figures, and even the Pixar animated actors are big-time moneymakers for Disney when it comes to the retail side of its business. The action figures, stuffed animals, costumes, and random toys bring in billions of dollars every year and build lifetime customers out of the children playing in the fantasy worlds Disney has created.

Lastly, on a day like today, when millions of shoppers are hitting the stores, the credit card companies may end up the biggest winners of the day. More shoppers means more plastic, and for every transaction, the card companies get a little piece of the pie. American Express (NYSE:AXP) is moving higher by 0.55%, while Visa (NYSE:V) is also up 0.6% and Discover (NYSE:DFS) is higher by 0.3%.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.