US shoppers took advantage of retailers offering a Thursday night start to the traditional post-Thanksgiving holiday shopping season, lining up at stores to get deals on electronics and other items or to just see what the fuss was about.
This year, Target Corp joined Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Gap Inc in being open at least part of the day on Thursday and some retailers will be open throughout the day, a trend that began to take hold in 2011.
Wal-Mart's US discount stores, which have been open on Thanksgiving Day since 1988, offered some Black Friday deals at 8 pm local time and special deals on some electronics at 10 pm Target has moved its opening from midnight to 9 pm on Thursday and Toys R Us is opening at 8 pm
It's a recognition that retailers need to be more aggressive and want to show their physical stores are important, Moody's senior analyst Charles O'Shea said.
While he didn't see enormous crowds out in Vauxhall, New Jersey, he did see about 15 people lined up already at a Best Buy, which opens at midnight. At a Target in Westbury, only two shoppers were in line for a 9 pm opening. Still, for retailers, any crowd could make the effort worth it.
It's a finite pie; if you can get a bit more by being open, then do it, O'Shea said.
The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, forecast a 4.1 percent increase in retail sales during the November-December holiday period this year, down from the 5.6 percent increase seen in 2011.
Some retailers, like Best Buy Co Inc are keeping Black Friday on Friday, waiting until midnight to open.
At a Best Buy in Orlando, people had camped out in tents for days waiting for the doors to open.
Gabriel Esteves, 33, a self-employed car audio installer, waited in line with a bag of Cheetos and a Coke while his brother and sister went to their homes for Thanksgiving feasts with their families.
They told me to take a break and go to the house, but today's the worst day to leave the line. People come and cut in line, said Esteves, who got in line Monday to buy some small electronics and a 50-inch television.
Best Buy, which is trying to stem falling sales under new CEO Hubert Joly, is one of the retailers in the spotlight this season.
At some stores, workers were not so happy to have