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Black Friday Shopping in Full Swing As Crowds Chase Deals

By DNAinfo Staff on November 25, 2011 11:13am  | Updated on November 25, 2011 3:46pm

Bargain hunters shop for discounted merchandise at Macy's on 'Black Friday' on Nov. 25, 2011.
Bargain hunters shop for discounted merchandise at Macy's on 'Black Friday' on Nov. 25, 2011.
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Michael Nagle/Getty Images

By Mathew Katz, Jill Colvin and Amy Zimmer

DNAinfo staff

MANHATTAN — Forget about the turkey-induced tryptophan food coma. Thousands of New Yorkers got off the couch after Thanksgiving dinner and flocked to stores that had early openings for Black Friday.

Toys 'R' Us kicked off its door-buster sale at 9 p.m. on Thursday. Target and Best Buy opened at midnight, with shoppers lined up hours in advance — sometimes more than a day — to take advantage of the big sales.  The National Retail Federation said it was "well worth it" for stores that opened early.

Macy's midnight opening at Herald Square was jam-packed, with an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 shoppers lined up before the doors opened. That was up from 2010's 7,000 shoppers waiting to get into the store when it opened at 4 a.m., said Macy's spokeswoman Elina Kazan.

"It was unbelievable," Kazan said. "The line wrapped around the entire building."

She noticed a lot of "young people" in the store and said the junior's shoes for the millennials was especially crowded as were the women's shoes.

"That place was packed at one and two in the morning," Kazan said. "We were giving away these Rampage boots for $19.99. People were pulling at them. They were buying."

Dorothy Guerra, 39, from a Toronto suburb, came to New York with another Canadian friend for a shopping extravaganza that began Thursday night with a stop in Buffalo before they hopped a plane to the city.

"This is New York on Black Friday," Guerra said. "It's the best place to shop in the world. We're having a girls' blowout weekend. Shopping is 25 percent. Partying is 75 percent, but we're not going to sleep until Tuesday."

Guerra bought a bottle of Ed Hardy "Villain" perfume that came with a video camera and a duffel bag for $80 at Macy's and was heading next to SoHo for shoe shopping, she said.

Though Macy's does not disclose sales figures and the door-buster sale was not over — it lasted until 1 p.m. Friday and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday — Kazan noted a few other sales that were especially popular, including a Black & Decker toaster that was $9.99 after a rebate and a five-piece luggage set marked down to $49.99 from $200.

Mohamed Bah, 16, of the Bronx, had waited outside the 34th Street H&M since 10 p.m. Thursday night for the store's 5 a.m. opening.

"I walked out with $100 [worth of clothing] and I spent $50," he said. "It was a bit of a pain to spend the night, but it's not like we had school today."

His exhausted friend, Ali Camara, 16, said, "We came here for clothes. We got clothes. Now...no more shopping."

Toys 'R' Us saw lines in the hundreds and in some cases more than 1,000 people waiting for the early openings, spokeswoman Jennifer Albano said.

"Xbox, iPods, tablets and netbooks were among the popular items on customers' wish lists," Albano said. The store's value box of Babies 'R' Us-branded diapers was also a popular item, she said.

"The holiday season is officially in full swing at Toys 'R' Us!," she said.

Mario Morillo, a television sales specialist from Costco at the East River Plaza in East Harlem, said, "The TVs are selling like candy! The Vizio 42-inch, the Panasonic 50-inch and the Sony 46-inch LCD TVs are going really quick."

The Vizio was reduced to $399 from $549, the Panisonic was going for $749 down from $849 and the Sony was priced at $799 from $899.

"Early morning openings appear to have been well worth it for both retailers and holiday shoppers, with many Americans believing that deals were too good to pass up regardless of who they were shopping for – themselves or others,"  National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

The retail group  estimates that holiday sales will increase 2.8 percent this year to $465 billion.

But the 34th Street Partnership, which tries to gauge the success of the day by counting the number of bags people are toting, saw a slight drop from last year, with 5 percent fewer shopping bags tallied at four key locations as of 2 p.m.

Staff counted 49,024 bags being toted by shoppers this year, versus 51,557 at the same locations in 2010.

"My personal opinion is this is the national economy. People were being a little more cautious," said Dan Biederman, President of the the 34th Street Partnership, which launched the count as a way to provide a near-immediate snapshot of the state of sales each year.

"My guess is overall, it's a tough year," he said.

The counters, however, only began at 7 a.m. and may have missed the waves of shoppers that rushed stores as they opened in the wee hours of the morning.