Nov. 23 - The traditional Black Friday start to the frenzied U.S. holiday shopping season gets an early kick-off with some stores opening the day before, with many consumers out early in hopes of snagging the best deals. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Black Friday actually began on Thursday for some retailers But at Macy's flagship store in New York City, the doors didn't open until midnight Friday with 11,000 customers waiting; and the crowd continued well into the morning. SOUNDBITE: MICHAELLA THOMAS, MACY'S SHOPPER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "There's a lot of people out here. It's crazy. I had to get out of here quick." SOUNDBITE: YVONNE RAWLEY, MACY'S SHOPPER VISITING FROM LONDON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's unbelievable how many, how cheap all the things in Macy's are. We were in there half-past six this morning and we only flew in last night." Deals were everywhere, and consumers seemed ready to play and pay - with aisles full and cash registers ringing with the breakfast crowd - but only when the price is right, admits Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren. SOUNDBITE: TERRY LUNDGREN, CEO, MACY'S (ENGLISH) SAYING: "They understand what that value means because they have all the research available to them online. They are using their phones to research the price and to make sure it is a good price. They are looking at their options and that's been a winning strategy for us and we believe we must be competitive on pricing, therefore we are." REPORTER STAND-UP: CONWAY G. GITTENS, REUTERS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "One thing working in retailers' favor: Mother Nature. There's no wacky weather, which means here on the East Coast temperatures are cold enough to support buying of winter goods, but not cold enough to keep people at home." Industry-wide sales are expected to grow 4.1 percent to just over $586 billion, after growing 5.6 percent in 2011. Chris Donnelly is the global managing director for retail at Accenture. SOUNDBITE: CHRIS DONNELLY, GLOBAL MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR RETAIL, ACCENTURE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's not going to be dramatically better than other years but the surveys we've done, customers are going to spend a little more than they have in the past and they've been very thoughtful about their planning for the year. So they've set aside a good budget that they can use in the holiday season." And that means one thing for eager parents looking to fulfill their kid's wish list.... SOUNDBITE: MARILYN FERNANDEZ, TOYS R US SHOPPER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I came to Toys 'R US for the 50 percent off Black Friday sale to get the kids' gifts for this year." Toys R Us is one of the retailers that opened up earlier on Thanksgiving night, and despite some criticism CEO Gerald Storch says the weekend is off to a good start. SOUNDBITE: GERALD STORCH, CEO, TOYS R US (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I've never seen happier shoppers on Black Friday. I think they were wide awake this year instead of when they get up in the middle of the night this year. So I'm very pleased with the customer response and how excited they were to go shopping with us." But retailers are anxious to see if the rush to open early and discount more - pulls sales forward or actually creates new demand, when consumers realize this year they have one extra shopping week between Black Friday and Christmas.