By The Daily News Staff
& The Associated Press
The holiday shopping season kicked off much earlier this year, as several retailers opened their stores on Thanksgiving Day.
Locally, stores were packed with shoppers on Thursday. Parking lots were full at major retailers Kingsford and Iron Mountain on Thanksgiving evening.
Sisters Emily Droese of Iron Mountain and Abby Tomasoski of Kingsford were among the shoppers on Thursday night.
"This is our first shopping experience for Black Friday and it was very overwhelming," said Droese. "We made some allies who told us we have to go in with the right mind-set to do it right. It's definitely worth the experience."
Theresa Proudfit/Daily News Photo
Iron Mountain-Kingsford shoppers flocked to area stores for Black Friday bargains. Here, shoppers look for Christmas holiday specials at Iron Mountain Walmart on Thursday night.
"It was funny," added Tomasoski. "We will definitely do it again next year."
The sales continued through today.
The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, is typically the biggest shopping day of the year. For a decade, it had been considered the official start of the holiday buying season. But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night.
They've also pushed up discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November, which has led retail experts to question whether the Thanksgiving openings will steal some of Black Friday's thunder.
Overall, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 4 percent to $602 billion during the last two months of the year. That's higher than last year's 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.
Analysts expect sales to be generated at the expense of profits, as retailers will likely have to do more discounting to get people into stores.
Here's how the start of the holiday shopping season is playing out. All times are EST, unless otherwise specified.
- Friday, 9:15 a.m.: Police officer suffers broken wrist breaking up fight
Authorities say a police officer suffered a broken wrist as he broke up a brawl between two men waiting in line for Black Friday shopping deals at a Southern California Wal-Mart store.
The San Bernardino Sun says the fight occurred about 7 p.m. Thanksgiving night when store managers decided to open the doors early to accommodate more than 3,000 waiting people. The doors were originally scheduled to open at 8 p.m.
Police say there were three fights at the store in Realto. Two of them were inside over merchandise; the third was outside, when the officer got injured.
One of the men involved in the fight outside was arrested for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Police allege that he was kicking the other man in the head when he was down on the ground.
- Friday, 8:15 a.m.: Two trips shopping for Chicago woman
Dana and Estevan Branscum of Chicago were stopping by a Target in the Chicago suburb of Niles to look for "little things" like movies.
"I never shop for big ticket items on Black Friday because I know I won't get them," said Dana Branscum, a 27-year-old grocery store manager.
The Friday morning visit was her second time at the store in less than 10 hours.
She and her mom headed out Thursday evening to do a full circuit of shopping: Kohl's, Target, J.C. Penney and Michael's craft store. She said it was much busier Thursday night than on Friday morning, but it also seemed more civilized than usual.
"I've been doing Black Friday for a couple years. It seemed very organized," she said. There even were still a few televisions left at Target when she and her mom arrived around 8:30 p.m. CST, a half-hour after the store opened. At that time, the lines for the checkout stretched about 20 feet into the nearby health and beauty department, she said.
Friday morning was considerably quieter, with no lines at the checkout and plenty of parking spots right out front at about around 6 a.m. CST.
"Everybody is sleeping now I think," said Estevan Branscum, a 24-year-old executive chef.
The Branscums plan to spend $800 to $1,000 this holiday season. They say if they had kids, they'd be spending much more.
Their big-ticket items this year - already purchased a week ago - were a TV for Estevan and a Coach purse for Dana.
They also stopped by Home Depot to buy a new Christmas tree.
- Friday, 6:30 a.m.: Tech gadgets among best-sellers at Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said that best sellers for its Thanksgiving sale included big-screen TVs, Apple's iPad Minis, laptops, Microsoft's Xbox One, Sony's PlayStation 4 and the game "Call of Duty: Ghosts."
The world's largest retailer said that customers also bought 2.8 million towels, 300,000 bicycles and 1.9 million dolls.
Wal-Mart started its deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year. The retailer said 1 million customers took advantage of its one-hour guarantee program, which allows shoppers who are inside a Wal-Mart store within one hour of a doorbuster sales event to buy that product and either take it home that day or by Christmas. That program started a year ago with three items and was expanded to 21 this year.
-Thursday, 5:41 p.m.: A Kmart store in the Manhattan borough of New York City was packed with people shopping for clothing and holiday decor items. The discounter, whose parent is Sears Holdings Corp., opened at 6 a.m. and planned to stay open for 41 hours straight. Clothing was marked down from 30 percent to 50 percent.
Adriana Tavaraz, 51, from the Bronx, who had just finished work at a travel agency at around 4 p.m., spent $105 on ornaments, Santa hats and other holiday decor for herself and her family at Kmart. She saved about 50 percent.
"I struggle a lot," said Tavaraz, who started saving for holiday presents in June and planned to spend a total of $200 for holiday presents. "Nowadays, you have to think about what you spend. You have to think about tomorrow."