NEW YORK - New York shoppers braved chilly temperatures after Thursday's Thanksgiving feast as the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend kicked off the most important stretch of the year for retailers.
Foot traffic in downtown Manhattan on Friday morning was busy, but not at peak saturation levels. Still, there was a buzz of excitement in the air.
"At three or four o'clock in the morning, it was very crazy. We went with the flow," said Jason Flores, who was carrying bags from Macy's and Zara, among others. "It's best not to have a plan. It makes it more fun."
Retailers have expanded the Black Friday concept to new limits in 2013, opening ever earlier on Thanksgiving Day, pulling more shopping all-nighters and kicking off promotions up to a week before the big day itself.
On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, about a dozen customers were spotted outside a Best Buy store at 6pm Thursday evening before the doors opened.
By 9pm, the store was full.
Laura Pisani, who came with her mother to buy an iPad, said they had had their Thanksgiving dinner earlier than usual before rushing out to the stores.
"We started yesterday at 8pm in a mall," said Victoria Schmidt, a German tourist who had bags from Calvin Klein, Forever 21 and other retailers.
"We bought things mostly for ourselves, and a Christmas present for my mother. We got 40 per cent off."
There were signs the aggressive Thursday campaign yielded benefits, with both Wal-Mart Stores and Target reporting "record" results from their Turkey-Day efforts.
One consequence of the pushed-up time-frame, however, was somewhat lower shopping volumes on Friday morning, said Morningstar analyst RJ Hottovy.
"Traffic is down a little bit," said Mr Hottovy, who said some shoppers may also have stayed away due to cold weather and the increased presence of online shopping.