RALEIGH (WTVD) --Stores opened their doors Friday for what is still one of the busiest days of the year, even as the start of the holiday season edges ever earlier.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, used to launch the holiday season, but the competition to grab customers first is keen. Stores like Macy's, Walmart, Target and more were open Thursday evening in what they hope will be a new holiday tradition.
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Shoppers arrived at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh for Black Friday sales by the time most stores opened at 6 in the morning. We even found some people still wearing pajamas and many with coffee in hand.
"I don't think it's too early," said Lisa Deckard, who shopped with her daughter and friends. "We get up this early every day of the week."
Shoppers tell us they found good deals on drones, clothing, and more.
"I was looking for some deals on Jordans and I found it," said Zach McAllister. "It was worth it."
With some retailers opening on Thanksgiving and more turning to the Internet to do their holiday shopping, some tell us this Black Friday is different.
"The first year we went, there were lines around the building and now it's not so bad," said Jennifer Talley.
"My sister has been going for a while, and my mom has been going for a really long time - kinda just a family tradition that we do," said Morgan Talley.
"It's just a blast. You get to save a lot of money and shop and shopping is one of our favorite things to do together,"Georgina Ishak explained.
This weekend is crucial to set the tone for the holiday season. Around 137 million people plan to or are considering doing their shopping during the Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation. That includes online and store shopping. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, vies with the Saturday before Christmas as the busiest shopping day of the year.
The NRF, the nation's largest retail group, expects holiday sales to rise 3.6 percent for November and December, better than the 3 percent growth seen for those months last year. That excludes car sales, gas and restaurant receipts but includes online spending and other non-store sales such as catalog spending.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.