Sammy Oson braved the rain on Thanksgiving to camp out in front of Best Buy for a 48-inch television. Michelle Compton fought a brisk shopping crowd at North East Mall because her relatives in Arkansas stayed home because of the weather. And Jenica Gonzales was first in line at Victoria’s Secret on Thursday afternoon just for the sales.
The three represented just a small sample of the hundreds of early shoppers on Thanksgiving in Tarrant County, getting a jump on the traditional Black Friday sales — which are forecast to dip 1.7 percent this year. Overall holiday spending, however, is expected to rise.
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This year, after previously opening earlier and earlier on the holiday, most of the more than a dozen major retailers like Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s stuck with their 5 or 6 p.m. Thanksgiving openings.
One big exception: J.C. Penney, which opened two hours earlier, at 3 p.m. Staples reversed course and was closed.
Still, stores weren’t waiting around to push discounts on holiday goods until the official weekend. Increasingly, they’ve been discounting holiday merchandise earlier in the month. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, nearly 60 percent of holiday shoppers had already started shopping as of Nov. 10.
That should take a bite out of the sales this weekend, although Black Friday should still rank either No. 1 or No. 2 in sales for the year.
The National Retail Federation estimates about 135.8 million people will shop this weekend, compared with 133.7 million last year. The trade group expected about 30 million to shop on Thanksgiving, compared with 99.7 million on Black Friday.
Overall, the group expects a 3.7 percent increase to $630.5 billion, much higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent.
Oson, of Euless, was camping out at Best Buy in Hurst for the second straight year. He, along with several friends, fought off temperatures in the mid-30s last year.
This year, it was the rain.
The group set up camp at about 7 p.m. Wednesday, complete with umbrellas, sleeping bags, card games and food. It was dry for most of their stay, but the rain started falling Thursday afternoon.
Best Buy opened at 5 p.m.
His friend Mohammed Osman of Euless was already planning on making it three in a row next year.
“Yes, we’ll do it again,” Osman said. “For the sales.”
Gonzales and her friend Kasi Tankersly, both of Fort Worth, agreed that they were the first in line at Victoria’s Secret, which opened at 6 p.m.
“We had our turkey just around noon, and I’ve come for the sales,” Gonzales said as she sat near the front door.
“I just follow her,” Tankersly said, pointing to Gonzales.
The rain didn’t stop Compton, of North Richland Hills, from shopping at J.C. Penney at North East Mall.
But she pointed out that she wouldn’t have been there if her family from Arkansas had made it to her home.
“Last year, I won $100 at Penney’s on Black Friday. This year, they offered $500 on Thanksgiving, but I didn’t win,” she said. “There was a crowd today, but it wasn’t anything like Black Friday last year.”
Compton doesn’t plan to venture out shopping this weekend as forecasters have issued a flash-flood warning for the area and Tarrant County could see 4 to 6 inches by the weekend.
“I don’t like shopping on Thanksgiving,” Compton said. “And I’m not going to be out in this rain this weekend.”
This report includes material from The Associated Press and the Star-Telegram archives.