NEW YORK — Cue the bargain hunters, and let the holiday shopping marathon begin.
Hoards of people plan to participate in retail’s annual rendezvous. Most markdowns are available online, but plenty of brick-and-mortar stores opened on Thanksgiving Day.
Among them are Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Toys ‘R’ Us, Macy’s, Kohl’s, RadioShack and Kmart.
Other stores will wait until Friday morning to kick off holiday shopping, including H&M, T.J. Maxx, Staples, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, Bed Bath & Beyond and Babies ‘R’ Us.
The good news for retailers is that shoppers are ready to spend 25% more this year than last year — or an average of $369 each. That’s according to a survey from consulting firm Deloitte.
Walmart pledged to offer many great deals online this year, with its Black Friday sales starting online at 3 a.m. Thursday morning. But many shoppers still opted to brave the store in-person.
In the suburban town of Wallingford, Connecticut, hundreds of people were at Walmart shortly before the store kicked off its sale deals at 6 p.m. Thursday.
While some shoppers wandered through the aisles, looking at deeply discounted clothing and home goods, many in the store gathered in organized lines snaking through the aisles — hoping to snag one of the tablets, flat-screen TVs and other electronics that made up most of the store’s Black Friday ad.
Some of the most popular items included: a 32-inch Roku TV for $125, a 7-inch RCA Tablet for $28.88 and a Nintendo Wii U bundle for $249. Meanwhile hundreds of people were waiting in line for the chance to buy a variety of video games and DVDs — some at 50% off or more.
A handful of local police officers patrolled the store, along with dozens of employees — many donning festive reindeer ears. Still, the crowds were relatively orderly as they waited around the store in lines roped off with yellow caution tape.
Some shoppers told CNNMoney they had long been devoted Black Friday shoppers, recalling when they had hit Walmart and other stores early Friday morning. In more recent years they ventured out Thursday evening after Thanksgiving dinner as Black Friday continued to encroach into the holiday.
“We do it every year,” said D.J. Culver, 32, as he waited in line to buy himself the $28.88 tablet. “You really can’t beat some of the deals.”
While Culver and his friend had already hit Big Lots and Family Dollar before ending up at Walmart, he said he still had time to eat two Thanksgiving meals with family earlier in the day.
Others said they had only been driven to the store by a particular deal.
“I have mixed emotions,” said Mary Naccarato, who came to the store with her two teenage daughters in search of $200 in savings on the new iPhone 6s. “I passed up dessert with my family to do this.”
Seconds later, she learned from an employee that the store may not have any more of the phone in stock. While a few sale items were covered by a “1-hour guarantee,” most had limited quantities — meaning some shoppers left the store empty handed.
While stores like Walmart embrace the Black Friday tradition, shoppers shouldn’t plan on heading over to REI. The outdoor and fitness gear retailer announced it will be closed on the biggest shopping day of the year.