Crowds of shoppers rush stores on Thanksgiving Day

Forget Black Friday, it's all about Grey Thursday. Thousands of eager shoppers crammed into Bay Area stores on Thanksgiving.
November 28, 2013 11:20:02 PM PST
Forget Black Friday, thousands of eager Bay Area shoppers crammed into stores on Thanksgiving Day. And there's no end in sight with the holiday shopping season now officially underway.

This is the first time retailers like Macy's and Best Buy opened their doors on Thanksgiving, and customers couldn't wait to rush in.

"I've never known Macy's to open at 8 o'clock on Thanksgiving Day before, so I'm here just to be here," shopper Dorothy Grace said.

Macy's in San Francisco's Union Square officially kicked off the holiday shopping season a day early this this year. More than 300 people stormed the doors as soon as employees flipped the locks

"There was a big line all the way to the corner," shopper Debra Stoddart said. "But we got there a half hour early and straight to the counter and got it."

Over the last few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. They've also pushed up the deep discounts that were once reserved for Black Friday.

Financial experts say opening on Thanksgiving is a savvy move and retailers are simply trying to get shoppers to buy in an economy that is still challenging. Stores are promising to slash prices so they can convince shoppers to buy early and often.

Across town, the Best Buy in the city's South of Market District also got in on the act. The line for shoppers waiting for the doors to open at 6 p.m. wrapped around the building. That's where we met Nestor Ramirez, who says that by beating the Black Friday crowds, he'll save big bucks.

"I'm going to be saving about four or five hundred bucks," he said.

Some dedicated shoppers at a Best Buy in Pinole had been in line since last Friday.

Bill Anders says he's been doing this for about thirty years, "Just be prepared to be in a long line," he said.

Sabrina Pope has hit the holiday lines for the last four years, "We've been here actually since Friday," she said. Waiting in line to get the best doorbuster buy is now a tradition for these die hard holiday bargain shoppers.

When we started checking in with early Thanksgiving Day shoppers, there were only a few in line just hours before doors opened, which is different than in years past.

"I don't think this is too bad today," Anders said. "This line's not too long. I've been in lines three or four blocks long waiting for things."

When asked why he thinks lines aren't so bad this time around, Concord resident Dylan Richey said, "Oh because it's Thanksgiving. Everybody's with their families."

At Toys "R" Us in San Mateo, the doors opened at 6 p.m. Store employees let people in 50 at a time to prevent a crush of shoppers. The line there started forming early Thursday afternoon. Toys "R" Us closes at midnight and reopens at 5 a.m. Friday.

And Kmart opened at 6 a.m. and will not close until 11 p.m. Friday. There will be several doorbuster deals throughout the day on Black Friday.

The National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 3.9 percent during the last two months of the year. That's higher than last year's 3.5 percent. Still, some say we shouldn't lose sight of what the holiday is really all about.

"The little things, they all count, they really do," Raveena Chahal said. "It's all about sharing and caring with your families and people who are in need.

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