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 early openings encroach on their Thanksgiving holiday. A petition asking Target to save Thanksgiving had 371,606 supporters as of Thursday afternoon.
Still, at a Target on Chicago's northwest Side, the first person waiting in line Thursday night was someone who worked at the store, Elsa Acevedo, 46, who finished her shift at 430 am and lined up at about 2.30 pm to buy a 50-inch Westinghouse television.
As for the earlier opening, I just think it takes people away from their families, she said. But she added that a midnight opening also pulled workers away from Thanksgiving celebrations because they had to prepare the stores to open.
Many shoppers lured into stores by earlier openings on Thursday may just be window-shopping.
More than 50 percent of consumers will do some form of show-rooming during the Black Friday weekend, said Kevin Sterneckert, vice president of retail research at Gartner Group.
They will buy things because they looked at it in the store. They will touch and feel what they are interested in and then buy it online on Monday, either from the same retailer or a different online retailer, Sterneckert said.
At a Kmart on 34th Street in Manhattan earlier Thursday, Charles Montague, a 55-year-old mover, was browsing the aisles just to kill time.
I don't holiday shop, he said emphatically. I buy stuff all year long, not during some man-made holiday.
Some were not waiting for Monday to buy on the Internet. Online Thanksgiving 2012 sales were already up 17.8 per cent over Thanksgiving 2011 for the same period, measured through 9 pm EST, according to IBM.
The results matter
The stakes are high for US retailers, which can earn more than a third of their annual sales in the holiday season.
Consumers heading into the holiday shopping season remain worried about high unemployment and possible tax increases and government spending