People rush into Macy's as they open at midnight on Friday in NYC.(Photo: Stan Honda, AFP/Getty Images)
(USA TODAY) -- Black Friday got off to an flying start in stores and online this year with shoppers jumping at the bargains offered by retailers unwilling to miss the early stampede for deals.
Some shoppers lined up outside stores on Thanksgiving Day while a "post-pie shopping frenzy" on store websites drove online sales up more than 18%, says Jay Henderson, strategy director for IBM Smarter Commerce. The"IBM Benchmark" tracks the websites of more than 500 leading U.S. retailers.
Henderson was one of the many people surfing the Web on their phones after Thanksgiving dinner. "My mom yelled at me for having my phone out at the dinner table," says Henderson, 38.
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To compete with online retailers, brick-and-mortar stores tried to make shopping as convenient as possible for consumers; many opened earlier Thanksgiving night to draw in shoppers who were unwilling to wait until midnight or the early-morning hours on Friday.
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This year, Toys R Us opened at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than last year. Sears, which didn't open on Thanksgiving last year, also opened at 8 p.m. Target opened at 9 p.m., three hours earlier than last year.
Many of the shoppers that came out Thursday had to alter their Thanksgiving dinner plans to accommodate their shopping plans.
Marguerite Dixon, 55, got to Toys R Us in Bailey's Crossroads, near Falls Church, Va., at 1 p.m. so she could be first in line for the Black Friday sales. Her family was waiting until she returned home to start Thanksgiving.
"My turkey and everything's going to be there when I get home," Dixon says.
She's hoping to score a scooter, books, board games and Xbox games for her grandchildren.