NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — 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 is used to launch the holiday season, but the competition to grab customers first is keen. Stores such as Macy’s, Walmart, Target and more were open Thursday evening in what they hope will be a new holiday tradition.

By Friday evening, traffic was moving smoothly and plenty of parking was available.

Jennifer Doran of Yonkers told CBS2’s Christine Sloan that with stores opening sooner and sooner, she doesn’t feel in a rush to come to the mall early anymore.


“The lines aren’t too crowded and we got to see Santa,” she said.

Still, area shoppers came out in droves Friday to take advantage of the doorbuster deals.

Manhattan native Javier Mendoza spent approximately $700 at the Palisades Center Mall in West Nyack. “The savings are incredible,” he rejoiced.

Joann Metzler of Yonkers made sure to take advantage of ample buy-one-get-one deals on shoes.

“There seems to be deeper discounts than there were in years past, so the pain threshold almost seems like it’s worth it,” said shopper Brian McDonald.

But many stores are offering the same deals as in previous years, like $19.99 boots that remain a big attraction, cashmere sweaters and sheets.

“I saved $74 and spent 69, so basically saved half,” said Kerry Olander, of Bayonne, New Jersey, told CBS2’s Magdalena Doris at Newport Centre mall in Jersey City.

Tanya Jordan planned to start shopping for herself Friday after buying for others Thursday night. She was looking for a big-screen TV at the Best Buy store in Howell Township, New Jersey. She also planned to browse the camera department, hoping to upgrade her current equipment if she could find the right deal.

“I buy a lot of stuff online, but when it comes to technology, I want to see and feel what I’m buying,” the 25-year-old Jackson Township resident said.

In addition to seeking bargains on staples such as TVs, items that drew crowds this year included cellphones and Hatchimals — eggs with a small, animatronic animal inside that hatch when given attention.

Jackie Tate, a nurse from Manhattan, said that in the past she’d get up in the wee hours to shop the deals on Black Friday. At Macy’s in New York on Thursday night, she said she planned to go shopping Friday but her enthusiasm has waned.

“I do most everything online now,” Tate said.

HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE: Hottest Toys | Gifts For Sports Lovers | Men’s, Women’s Fashion

Amanda from Franklin Square told 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern she started shopping at midnight at the outlet before hitting Roosevelt Field mall bright and early.

What did she get for all her effort?

“Good sales and first dibs on everything,” she said.

David from Flushing said there’s a price to pay for the early-morning shopping and he planned to pay it when he was done.

“Probably go back home and knock out,” he said. “Pretty tired. A long night.”

In the parking lot at the Garden State Plaza, shoppers with arms full of bags told CBS2’s Valerie Castro that they were ready to head home after a long day.

“It’s a rush, everybody is buying everything. It’s dying down now because all the good sales are gone,” Solomon Joseph said.

Joseph drove to New Jersey from Manhattan to find the best deals, and wasn’t looking forward to the drive home.

“You just wanna go home. I was getting tired in there. Oh my god, I’m glad it’s over,” he said.

Tyrone Jenkins spent 45 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot.

“It’s a mad house, all I wanna do is go home,” he said.

Not interested in a possible stampede? Online shopping isn’t just for Cyber Monday anymore.

“Every year for the past several years, Amazon has by far the No. 1 store for Black Friday deals and discounts,” said retail analyst Benjamin Galszer.

This weekend is crucial to set the tone for the holiday season. Around 137 million people are planning 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 vies with the Saturday before Christmas as the busiest shopping day of the year.

The National Retail Federation, 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.

Online spending climbed to more than $1 billion Thursday, up nearly 14 percent from a year ago, according to the Adobe Digital Index. People spent a record $449 million using their mobile devices alone.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)