Video: ‘Black Friday’ gets a head start

  1. Closed captioning of: ‘Black Friday’ gets a head start

    >> now to all the early birds stuffed and happy after thanksgiving dinner and already out the door, making a beeline for those ready to shop, getting a jump on black friday. nbc's kevin tibbles is outside chicago tonight , good evening.

    >> reporter: well, kate, it may be the tradition time of thanksgiving and turkey, but on this tradition day it is time to also head out, line up and hope for a deal. while many americans are serving up seconds, many others are lining up in search of a bargain.

    >> happy thanksgiving.

    >> the earlier you get here, the better chances you have at bargains.

    >> black friday is back, savings start.

    >> reporter: traditional black friday sales moved head to thanksgiving thursday as walmart, sears, target and toys "r" us roll out their big deals tonight.

    >> it is important for people to make sure they're in the game, too. and if walmart opens earlier, it will be very hard for the competitors to sit on the sidelines.

    >> reporter: k-mart shoppers got off to an early start. in some places like atlanta, tempers flared. the holiday shoppers suggest that more than 17% of consumers will venture out tonight to try to save a little money. tomorrow, black friday remains the busiest day with more than 80 million people planning to shop. but some employees are not so thrilled at having to work what is traditionally a day to spend with family.

    >> and it would be better for the consumer as well as the worker for them to have thanksgiving off.

    >> reporter: some even picket several walmart locations.

    >> there is a petition that tens of thousands signed saying they don't want to work on thanksgiving.

    >> i'm out here getting a good deal.

    >> reporter: but in a shop until you drop society, choice is king. and if shoppers want to gobble up bargains on turkey day , well, then, the retailers will help them do it. so here at toys "r" us, many have already had their pumpkin pie . or put it on hold to take part in that other american pasttime, shopping.

    >> kevin tibbles in chicago tonight .

NBC News and news services
updated 11/23/2012 12:26:21 AM ET 2012-11-23T05:26:21

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.

"I like watching the insanity, honestly," Jon Stroker, 40, of Littleton, New Hampshire, said after spending about $280 at a Walmart store in town and taking advantage of the retailer's 8 p.m. Thursday start of "Black Friday" deals.

Stores typically open in the wee hours of the morning after Thanksgiving on the day known as Black Friday, named for the period when stores traditionally turn a profit for the year. But Black Friday openings have crept earlier and earlier over the past few years. Now, stores like Wal-Mart and Toys R Us are opening their doors on Thanksgiving evening, hoping Americans will be willing to shop soon after they finish their pumpkin pie.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. had early bird shopping specials at 8 p.m., two hours earlier than a year ago. Target Corp. opened its doors at 9 p.m. on the holiday, three hours earlier than last year. Sears, which didn't open on Thanksgiving last year, opened from 8 p.m. and will stay open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. And Toys R Us opened at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than last year.

It's an effort by stores to make shopping more convenient for Americans, who still face economic uncertainty. Many shoppers are worried about high unemployment and a package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" that will take effect in January unless Congress passes a budget deal by then. At the same time, Americans have grown more comfortable shopping on websites such as Amazon.com, where they can get cheaper prices and buy from the comfort of their home or office cubicle.

Video: Score best Black Friday deals at Staples, Gap, more

As a result, brick-and-mortar retailers, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the two-month holiday shopping season, are trying everything they can to lure consumers into stores by making shopping as easy as possible. In addition to expanding their hours into Thanksgiving, many are offering free layaways and shipping, matching the cheaper prices of online rivals and updating their mobile shopping apps with more information.

The early hours on Thursday proved attractive to some people. In North Texas, David Diamondson of Grand Prairie even ate his Thanksgiving dinner in line at a Best Buy to try to get a 50-inch flat-screen ETV.

“We've got a little cornbread, stuffing, potato salad and turkey,” he told NBCDFW.com.

In Miami, Xavier Medina said he and his family had camped out since Monday, hoping to get a 50-inch LED TV at Best Buy.

"We take turns," the Black Friday veteran told NBC 6 South Florida. "People go to work and come back. I'm the one who takes the cold weather."

Danelys Paiz and her husband, Armando Villar, made waiting in the cold for a TV a family affair. "We have like seven blankets on top of us," Paiz told NBC 6.

Villar said the 40-inch TV that they were after was almost half off its normal price. "I mean, $179 — you can't find that anywhere else," he told NBC 6.

Overall, about 17 percent of shoppers planned to take advantage of Thanksgiving hours, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers conducted from Nov. 15 to Nov. 18. Last year, that figure was 16 percent. For Black Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, 33 percent intend to shop that day, slightly down from 34 percent in 2011.

But not everyone likes the idea of Turkey Day shopping. Some retailers that are opening on Thanksgiving face criticism from workers who complain that the holiday should be a time for everyone to spend with their family.

A New York-based union-backed group of retail workers called Retail Action Project is planning protests in the Manhattan borough of New York City on Thanksgiving in front of several stores, including AnnTaylor, Forever 21 and others that are opening at midnight on Black Friday and earlier.

"It shows that the companies are not valuing their workers. They're looking to their workers to squeeze out more profits," said Carrie Gleason, director of Retail Action Project.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, has been one of the biggest targets of protests against holiday hours. The issue is part of a broader campaign against the company's treatment of workers that's being waged by a union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers. It's staging demonstrations and walkouts at hundreds of stores on Black Friday.

Video: $586 billion holiday shopping boost expected for economy

Mary Pat Tifft, a Wal-Mart employee in Kenosha, Wis., who is a member of OUR Walmart, started an online petition on signon.org that has about 34,000 signatures.

"This Thanksgiving, while millions of families plan to spend quality time with their loved ones, Wal-Mart associates have been told we will be stocking shelves and preparing sales starting at 8 p.m.," she wrote on the site.

But retailers say they are giving shoppers what they want. Dave Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said that the discounter learned from shoppers that they want to start shopping right after Thanksgiving dinner. Then, they want to have time to go to bed before they wake up to head back out to the stores.

Still, Tovar said that Wal-Mart works to accommodate its workers' requests for different working hours. "We spent a lot of time talking to them, trying to figure out when would be the best time for our events," he said.

Kathee Tesija, Target's executive vice president of merchandising, said Target's 9 p.m. opening struck "a perfect balance" for its customers. When asked whether it's faced any criticism from Target employees, she noted that the chain also works with workers to accommodate their needs. But, ultimately the company serves the customer.

"We thought long and hard about when the right opening time would be," she said, adding that Target "wants to make sure we are competitive."

This article includes reporting from The Associated Press, Reuters, NBCDFW.com and NBCMiami.com.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: Americans line up for Black Friday

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  1. A crowd gathers as security guards break up a fight between shoppers waiting in line just as the doors open for Black Friday shopping Nov. 22 at Target in Bowling Green, Ky. (Alex Slitz / Daily News via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. People carrying shopping bags wait to cross the street in Herald Square on Nov. 23 in New York. Black Friday, the day following the Thanksgiving Day holiday, has traditionally been the busiest shopping day in the United States. (Keith Bedford / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Shoppers rush to grab electric griddles and slow cookers on sale for $8 shortly after the doors opened at a J.C. Penney store Nov. 23 in Las Vegas. Black Friday got a jump start this year as many stores opened just as families were finishing up Thanksgiving dinner. Stores are experimenting with ways to compete with online rivals like Amazon.com that can offer holiday shopping deals at any time and on any day. (Julie Jacobson / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Shoppers on New York's Fifth Avenue patronize a street vendor offering $5 jewelry on Nov. 23. (Richard Drew / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Jasmine Britton, 18, of Huntington Beach rests while shopping at the Los Cerreitos Center mall in Cerritos, Calif. on Nov. 23. (Bret Hartman / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Shoppers wait in a checkout line Nov. 23 at a Kmart store in Braintree, Mass. (Allison Joyce / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Shoppers crowd the first floor of Macy's department store in New York on Friday, Nov. 23, after the store opened at midnight. (Stan Honda / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Teaje Price, left, and Kristi Marshall celebrate as they enter a Best Buy store in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, on Nov. 23. They planned on buying a television and a Blu-ray player. (Tony Dejak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Chris Dispenza of Vicksburg, Miss., tries to keep his daughter Jayde Dispenza, 8, awake as they wait to enter a Best Buy store Friday morning in Jackson, Miss. The Dispenzas waited in line for a couple of hours before entering the store after midnight. (Rogelio V. Solis / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A child sits and waits with a guitar at a Macy's store in New York on Nov. 23. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Protesters supporting workers' rights demonstrate outside a Walmart store in Chicago on Nov. 23. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Victoria Wachowiak pushes a shopping cart with a 50-inch televison at Target in Burbank, Calif., on Thursday, Nov. 22. The shopping frenzy known as "Black Friday" kicked off earlier this year, with retailers like Target Corp and Toys R Us moving their openings to Thursday night. (Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Target Manager Jay Fitzgerald welcomes shoppers as they flood his store in Harbison, S.C. Fitzgerald, who recently retired from the Air Force after 27 years of service, took over the Harbison Target just three and a half weeks ago. (C. Michael Bergen / Zuma Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Best Buy employees participate in a group huddle as they prepare to open the store on Nov. 22 in Naples, Fla. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Customers shop for televisions at Target in Burbank, Calif., on Nov. 22. (Jonathan Alcorn / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Shoppers wait in line for the 8 p.m. opening of the Times Square Toys R Us store in the lead-up to Black Friday in New York on Nov. 22. (John Minchillo / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Dora Hurtado waits in line at a Toys R Us store in Pembroke Pines, Fla., Nov. 22, 2012. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Customers wait in line for door-buster deals at a Kmart in Chicago on Nov. 22. Kmart was the first major retailer nationwide to kick off pre-Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m. (John Konstantaras / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. Mercy and Ozzy Dominquez try to stay warm as they wait outside a Best Buy store in Pembroke Pines, Fla., late Thursday. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Bargain hunters grab video games and DVDs at the 8 p.m. opening of Wal-Mart's 'Black Friday' sale on Thanksgiving Day in Fairfax, Va., Nov. 22, 2012. Though Black Friday has traditionally been the day after Thanksgiving, a new trend that industry watchers label 'Black Friday creep' has pushed the opening of the Christmas shopping season to Thanksgiving Day. (Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. A cashier checks the authenticity of $100 bills at the register of a Toys R Us store in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A boy carries a stack of toys inside a Toys R Us store in Manchester, N.H., Nov. 22. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Customers check a store flyer as they line up outside a Toys R Us store in Times Square in New York City, Nov. 22. (Carlo Allegri / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A shopper from South America stands with carts loaded with clothes from the Tommy Hilfiger store at Miami's Dolphin Mall on Nov. 22. (J Pat Carter / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Shoppers file into a Target store in Chicago, Nov. 22. (John Gress / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
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