About 15,000 shoppers were at Macy's right before the doors opened, estimated Terry Lundgren, CEO, president and chairman of the department store chain. Last year, the store had 11,000 people right before the midnight opening.
Lundgren, who was at the entrance, told The Associated Press that the retailer knew it had to open when it found out other competitors were planning to open on Thanksgiving night. He also said it received positive feedback from its employees. "We're a competitive group," he said. "It's very clear they (the shoppers) want to be here at 8 p.m."
The store was featuring 375 doorbusters, up from last year's 200. Some of the deals included $79.99 jackets originally priced from $195 to $250, and cashmere sweaters for $39, marked down from 129.
Shelby Wheatley, 17, was with her mother, her mother's friend and her best friend, who all traveled from Orlando, Fla. Wheatley was looking for a prom dress and wanted to buy it in New York.
"I did Black Friday — but never Thursday — and never in New York," she said.
As for Thanksgiving, the group celebrated early with family last week.
"We just had dinner at TJI Fridays," she added.
— Anne D'Innocenzio, Retail Writer, New York
—Thursday, just before 8 p.m.: At Macy's in the Manhattan borough of New York City, bargain shoppers were grabbing discounted coats, perfume and handbags. It was mayhem in the shoe department with shoppers pushing and shoving each other to grab boxes of cold weather boots, discounted by 50 percent, that were stacked high on tables. One item catching people's attention: Bearpaw boots that resembled Uggs. They were priced at $34.
"This is my first Black Friday, and I don't particularly like it," said Tammy Oliver, 45, who had a box of Bearpaw boots under her arm, a gift for herself. "But I did get some good deals."