Shoppers actually kicked off Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year, on Thursday.
But don’t worry if you couldn’t make it out on Thanksgiving Day. The deals, lines and, unfortunately, traffic continued Friday.
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Best Buy, Macy’s, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart joined other stores throughout metro Atlanta that started Black Friday deals at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Lenox Square opened at 6 p.m. Thursday, then closed at 1 a.m. Friday and reopened at 6 a.m. Some retailers stayed open overnight.
Spokeswoman Carol Cox said Lenox Square was “definitely the place to be” Thursday, with crowds thickening between 8 and 10 p.m.
Shoppers passed the square’s new 26-foot illuminated buck head between the Cheesecake Factory restaurant and Macy’s, then trickled into stores Friday morning.
“Everything has been fantastic,” Cox said. “Once again we’re seeing families, and we are a part of their annual shopping traditions.”
The early start to Black Friday meant many metro shoppers began camping out Wednesday.
Tae Chun, who was first in line at Best Buy in Duluth, told Channel 2 Action News he set up his tent at 3 p.m. Wednesday hoping to get video games.
“I was actually first last year, too,” he said. “I’ll be here 26 hours by the time they open.”
The store started letting people inside, Chun included, in groups of 50 Thursday.
One shopper, Hanna McGowin, told Channel 2 she wishes stores would go back to starting deals on Friday.
“However, I’m OK with people protesting it being on Thanksgiving,” she said. “It just gives me a better chance of getting what I want.”
Marcus Buckler, a Best Buy manager in Gwinnett County, told Channel 2 he started prepping two hours before the doors opened and his process included handing out tickets for big items such as flat screen TVs to “ensure there’s not a big rush of customers trying to grab products.”
“It keeps it very organized,” he said.
Just to the west, a smaller store attracted a larger crowd in Cobb County.
At a boutique in Marietta, shoppers — some of whom had waited outside in tents — rushed through the doors of Lizard Thicket on Merchant’s Walk.
The store, which opened at 6 a.m., offered freebies for the first 100 people to enter, Channel 2 reported.
Traffic at other metro Atlanta stores and malls started to pick up as malls opened for the day, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.
Fewer parking spaces were available.
At about 11:30 a.m., Lenox Square was 90 percent full, Channel 2 reported.
Town Center in Kennesaw was 80 percent full, and Sugarloaf Mills in Lawrenceville was 30 percent full. The Mall of Georgia parking lot was bustling at 85 percent filled to capacity.
With temperatures in the 70s and rain nowhere in sight, shoppers don't have much to deter them from hitting the stores in mass numbers Friday afternoon. But it will be difficult to gauge just how many there are.
Many metro Atlanta store managers said store policies prevent them from giving Black Friday sales projections, and it’s difficult to project Black Friday sales revenue anyway.
Melissa Goff, a Macy’s spokeswoman, said even without knowing what revenue will be, “we are confident that we are offering holiday gifts with exceptional value.”
“The holiday season is our most important time of the year,” she said.