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Shoppers Flock To Stores Early On Black Friday To Get Deals

posted 29 Nov 2013, 09:42 by Mpelembe   [ updated 29 Nov 2013, 10:39 ]

U.S. retailers such as department store chain Macy's and toy store chain Toys R Us roll out their best sales of the year on Black Friday to attract holiday shoppers.

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORKUNITED STATES (NOVEMBER 29, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Holiday shoppers flocked to stores early on Black Friday (November 29) to beat the crowds while taking advantage of the biggest sales.

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In New York, the Toys R Us store in Times Square opened its doors to shoppers at 700EST, attracting customers such as Dawn Sullivan who came in to the city from Long Island.

"Black Friday is really important to me. That's why I get super early make sure that the kids are attended to and then I come in and try to get as many sales as I can get," she explained.

To make sure she would waste no time, Sullivan even came to the store a week before to check out the location of each desired product.

"I came here like a week ago and strategized where pretty much almost everything I know is. And for the few products that I am not able to find, I ask the sales associates who have been extremely helpful."

The store was relatively quiet on Friday morning, as many retailers began their big annual sale a day earlier than the traditional "Black Friday" sprees that follow Thanksgiving.

With six fewer shopping days this year than in 2012, Toys R Us and a slew of other stores opened on Thanksgiving for the first time in a bare-knuckle brawl for a bigger slice of holiday sales.

Toys R Us for example opened its doors on Thursday evening at 1700EST attracting huge crowds. But its Chief Merchandizing Officer Richard Barry said that for them, holiday season started even earlier to make up for the lost six days.

"We really thought about the sale this year really starting Sunday before Black Friday, really running all the way through to the 24th of December," he told Reuters.

The quiet store was a draw for some shoppers, such as Bronx-resident Kerone Gordon.

"This is actually my second time out. Last year I went out for Black Friday but there was a line, so it kind of turned me off. So this year it was more convenient to just go in, there was no line so it was pretty cool," he said.

Luis Medina, who traditionally did his holiday shopping online said that coming out to a store had its benefits.

"Sometimes come in and (seeing) firsthand it's a lot better, coming first hand and see the toy yourself and online you only see a picture."

According to Barry, some of the most popular gifts this year will be third incarnation of "Skylanders" -- the hugely popular gaming franchise from Activision Publishing Inc. - that allows toy figures to interact with gaming consoles, and Cra-Z-loom, a kit that allows children to make their own rubber band accessories.

While the newest generation gaming consoles of Microsoft and Sony, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, are expected to be among the best selling holiday gifts this year, board games are making a strong comeback too according to Jonathan Berkowitz of board game maker Hasbro.

"Sixty-one percent of people are actually feeling like they're too connected to their devices and they can't separate from their devices. And I think what board games allow them to do is actually connect and be face-to-face and have great social interaction," he told Reuters.

Besides Toys R Us, department store chains Kohl's Corp, J.C. Penney Co Inc and Macy's all announced earlier this year they would open on Thanksgiving Day for the first time.

The National Retail Federation estimates overall sales for November and December to jump by 3.9 percent.