Adriana Tavaraz, 51, from the Bronx, who had just finished work at a travel agency at around 4 p.m., spent $105 on ornaments, Santa hats and other holiday decor for herself and her family at Kmart. She saved about 50 percent. But Tavarez said her holiday budget was tight because she was grappling with higher costs like food and monthly rent, which rose $100 to $1,700 this year.
"I struggle a lot," said Tavaraz, who started saving for holiday presents in June and planned to spend a total of $200 for holiday presents. "Nowadays, you have to think about what you spend. You have to think about tomorrow."
As for celebrating Thanksgiving, she planned to have her family over for dinner at 8 p.m.
"Everything is ready," she said.
—Anne D'Innocenzio, Retail Writer, New York
— Thursday, 4:30 p.m.: At Best Buy in New York City, 70 people are in line before the 6 p.m. opening. A popular deal was the Microsoft Windows Surface tablet on sale at $199 from $350.
Jamal Afridi, 35, a truck driver from Utah but living temporarily in New York, was in line to buy a 39-inch TV for $160 from $299. He tried to buy it online but it was sold out.
"I checked over the last two days, I wouldn't have come out otherwise," he said. He was also interested in the Surface tablet deal, though. "This was the best deal if the year," he said.
He doesn't mind earlier hours on Thanksgiving. "I don't have to get up early in the morning," he said. "Who cares it's just another day, I'll eat later."
— Mae Anderson, Retail Writer, New York
— Thursday afternoon: Pizza Hut has offered to rehire the manager of a northern Indiana restaurant who was fired over his refusal to open up on Thanksgiving Day.
Tony Rohr said he has worked at the Elkhart restaurant since starting as a cook more than 10 years but was told to write a letter of resignation after his refusal. He said he declined in a meeting with his boss and instead wrote a letter explaining that he believed the company should care more about its employees.