The Black Friday shopping frenzy kicked off at a more civilized hour, with shoppers welcoming decisions by retailers such as Target Corp and Toys R Us Inc to move their openings to Thursday night.
They also seemed to show little concern that the U.S. economy could be pushed over a “fiscal cliff,” if a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts take effect in January. Economists worry that unless U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress don’t agree on a plan, the economy could fall into another recession.
The National Retail Federation expects sales during the holiday season to grow 4.1 percent this year, not as strong as last year.
“I think spending is better for the economy. I think you should spend. If you save all your money that will only make it worse,” said Saiful Islam, 21, a New York accounting student who stood in line at Best Buy to purchase a television, a laptop and a PlayStation. “The line is bad, but the deals are good.”
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, two-thirds of shoppers were planning to spend the same amount of money as last year or were unsure about spending plans, while 21 percent intended to spend less, and 11 percent planned to spend more.
“I definitely have more money this year,” said Amy Balser, 26, at the head of the line outside the Best Buy store in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. “I definitely don’t think (the economy) has bounced back anywhere near as much as it needs to, but I see some improvement,” she said.
Across the country, store lines were long - in the hundreds or more in many places - though the move toward earlier opening hours appeared to have helped.
While the shift was denounced by store employees and traditionalists because it pulled people away from families on the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, many shoppers welcomed the chance to shop before midnight or in the early morning hours.