The craziest shopping day of the year in Massachusetts began shortly after midnight Friday morning.
Hundreds of shoppers lined up outside stores to get the first crack at limited supply deals when doors opened, in some cases as early as 12:30 a.m. Blue Laws in Massachusetts prevent stores from opening on Thanksgiving Day, but that didn’t stop shoppers from spending the holiday standing outside stores like Best Buy and Target.
Jin Lao had his family deliver turkey, stuffing and collared greens to him outside Target at South Bay Plaza, where he started waiting in line at 4 p.m. on Wednesday for a 50-inch Element HDTV for $229.
Lao, 24, wrapped himself in five layers of clothes, gloves, a beanie and a scarf and carried a portable phone charger, Black Friday shopping essentials he learned the hard way outside the same store last year.
“I’ve had a lot of Thanksgivings,” said Lao, the first shopper in a line that would stretch to hundreds before the store opened at 1 a.m. “I can take two away for Target and TVs.”
About 15 people waited across the parking lot outside Best Buy at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Brother and sister Wesley Jean Baptiste, 24, and Mondy Cameau braved the cold weather for deals on televisions and laptops.
“The worst part about it is the temperature,” said Jean Baptiste, who joined the line at noon on Thanksgiving. “If this were San Diego, we’d be sitting pretty.”
The early morning rush Friday was only the start of a big shopping weekend. The National Retail Federation expects shoppers to spend more than $600 billion between Friday and Monday.
“Retailers are being aggressive with promotions and they have big items with big markdowns,” said Madison Riley, a Boston retail strategist with Kurt Salmon, a consultancy company. “The traffic always responds to that. I sense that it’s going to be a big big day.”
Retailers already agree that Friday is shaping up to be a successful day. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said that as of 8:15 a.m. more than five million shoppers had purchased doorbuster specials that were guaranteed to be in stock for at least one hour. Target Corp. said it had a strong start to the day and traffic on Target.com was exceeding previous records.
Shoppers all over the state joined in the ultra-early rush. Miles away Boston’s South Bay Plaza, at a Target in Somerville, more than 150 people calmly filed into the store at 1 a.m. The first 18 had snagged vouchers for the Element television deal and most shoppers made a beeline to the electronics section for iPads, which came with a $100 gift card.
“This is my first Black Friday shopping and it wasn’t as bad as I thought,” said Megan Connolly, who bought a television sound system, video games, and a baby stroller. “There was no pushing or fighting.”
Some diehard shoppers like Boston University student Dorothy Ovalles came out for the early morning openings and were still going strong after the sun came up.
Ovalles, 21, hit the Cambridgeside Galleria at midnight, shoppped until 6 a.m. and then went to Copley Place, where she carried bags from Lord and Taylor, Gap, Old Navy and H&M. Despite the shopping marathon, she said she doesn’t get too “crazy.”
The South Shore Plaza in Braintree opened for business at 12:30 a.m. Soon, “there were lines wrapped around Target and Sears had quite a line,” said Vicki Bartkiewicz, the mall’s director of marketing. “The Pink had a line until 4:30. Their door buster was the fleece sweater and pants.”
Bartkiewicz said that for the past few years she has seen stores starting to offer deals in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.
“Starting in November the stores were having some amazing discounts prior to Black Friday,” she said, but the day after Thanksgiving remains popular. “For a lot of people Black Friday is a social event, kicking off the holidays.”