Black Friday shopping starts early

For some deal seekers, Black Friday shopping began on Thanksgiving Day - or even earlier. Shoppers started lining Wednesday, some stores opened on Thanksgiving, and outlet malls opened at midnight.

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GARNER, N.C. — For some deal seekers, Black Friday shopping began on Thanksgiving Day – or even earlier.

Jasper and Cynthia Taylor stood in line for the late Thursday night opening at Carolina Premium Outlets in Smithfield. It was the 17th year the couple had been at the outlet mall, looking for deals on Christmas presents.

"The things we do for our kids," Cynthia Taylor said.

Carolina Premium Outlets has been opening at midnight on Thanksgiving Day for a decade, but this year, some stores opened as early as 9 p.m.

"This is the first night we have a few stores opening earlier, and I have feeling that is going to catch on," Linda Crowder, with the outlet mall, said.

The Sears store in Cary Towne Center was open on Thanksgiving, although the mall itself was closed.

"Two o'clock, when you're having dinner, I'm sitting in front of the stores," shopper Pam Hopkins said.

James Blair and his sons were the first in line outside the Best Buy store in Garner. They got there at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday and had Thanksgiving dinner off the hood of a car Thursday.

The line had grown to more than 10 people by Thursday afternoon. Best Buy employees planned to hand out tickets to people in line two hours before the 5 a.m. opening on Friday.

Blair – who's shopped Black Friday sales for 16 years – said it was important to be first.

"You can be five people in back, and they've already sold out before the store opens," he said. "You can stand in line for 20 hours and still not get what you want."

Shoppers said they were hoping to score one of the $189 laptops advertised by Best Buy. The advertisement said the store might have only three laptops for sale at that price.

"I'll feel real good then, just to know my time wasn't wasted," Blair said.

Retailers expect 138 million Americans to hit the malls this weekend and spend at least $200 per person – a 2.5 percent increase over 2009 holiday spending.

Sears manager Greg Todloski said that Black Friday deals and the holiday shopping season are important for stores' bottom line.

"This is where probably the majority of retail money is made, in the months of November and December," Todloski said.

He recommended that shoppers plan ahead for Black Friday, pinpoint the deals they want and start early.

"At of the times, there are limited quantities, so if you know exactly what you want, go get want you want, and hopefully, you can beat some of the crowds," he said.

Hopkins, a self-described die-hard Black Friday shopper, said that being first in can pay off. Two years ago, it earned her a $129 laptop, she said.

"Go get that chair, and sit in line, and be the first one," Hopkins said.

Mall hours on Black Friday

Carolina Premium Outlets: midnight Thursday–10 p.m. Friday

Cary Towne Center: 6 a.m.–10 p.m.

Crabtree Valley Mall: 7 a.m.–10 p.m.

Cross Creek Mall: 6 a.m.–10 p.m.

The Streets at Southpoint: 6 a.m.–10 p.m.

Tanger Outlet Mall: midnight Thursday–10 p.m. Friday

Triangle Town Center: 6 a.m.–10 p.m.

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Brian Shrader, Reporter
Adam Owens, Reporter
Pete James, Photographer
Mark Simpson, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor

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