Customers line up for earlier shopping start

Many area shoppers skipped Thanksgiving dinner with family and braved cold temperatures Thursday to get a jump on their holiday shopping and score some early deals.

More than a dozen major retailers from Target to Toys “R” Us opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day, further shifting the official start of the holiday buying season from Black Friday, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

Nina Lowe of Kettering said she filled her shopping cart in “10 seconds” after the Toys “R” Us store in Miamisburg opened at 5 p.m., three hours earlier than last year.

The more than 100 people who were waiting outside entered the store in a single file line.

Lowe, who had two people pushing additional carts for her, planned to complete most of her gift-buying Thursday.

“It is absolutely worthwhile,” she said. “You get like 50 percent off everything or more.”

A Toys “R” Us store manager addressed employees before the store opened, thanking them for working on the holiday and reminding them to take care of customers. The store would do a summer’s worth of sales in the next 30 hours, he said.

Last year, Thanksgiving Day sales accounted for $810 million, a 55 percent increase from 2011 as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak. That resulted in a 1.8 percent drop in Black Friday sales, which at $11.2 billion was still the biggest shopping day last year.

The National Retail Federation said nearly a quarter of the 140 million people who planned to shopthis weekend would do so on Thanksgiving Day, or 33 million shoppers.

The move to open on Thanksgiving has been controversial, sparking protests, online petitions and resistance from some retailers such as Von Maur.

Craig Jones of Fairfield arrived at the Best Buy in Fairfield Twp. at 1 p.m. to save $200 on a TV but said he doesn’t like requiring employees to work on Thanksgiving, saying it amounted to “destroying the family tradition.”

“I mean, store’s are opening up on Christmas Day now … Why? Have we become that consumer-orientated that we need to do that?” said Jones, originally from the U.K.

Amber Shivadecker of West Chester grabbed burritos for breakfast so she could be in line at Toys “R” Us by 11 a.m. Thursday to get an interactive toy dog for her daughter at a 60 percent discount. “That was our Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

Tina Antle of Centerville also camped out in front of Toys “R” Us, while her husband waited in line at the nearby Best Buy. Antle said she has hit the annual Black Friday sales for the past five years because it saves the family money.

“This year we skipped Thanksgiving because of the earlier hours,” Antle said.

Toys “R” Us was just the first stop for Mandi and Tom Martin of Centerville. The couple also planned to shop at Best Buy, Target, Walmart and the Dayton Mall before the end of their night.

“We’ll pretty much be done after today,” Mandi Martin said. They missed Thanksgiving dinner with family, but now can enjoy the holiday season with most of their gift-buying completed, she said.

Outside Best Buy in Miamisburg, most shoppers were waiting for deals onitems such as televisions, and laptop and tablet computers. The line of customers stretched to the far end of the plaza about 30 minutes before Best Buy’s 6 p.m. opening.

The early opening time appealed to Abhi Kohli of Miamisburg, who said he wouldn’t have waited in line for Best Buy to open at midnight or 5 a.m. on Black Friday, as the store did in past years.

“I don’t like to stand overnight,” he said. “We came around quarter to twelve, so four or five hours in the daytime is OK.”

Lori Cramer brushed aside temperatures in the low 20s to arrive at Meijer in Kettering at 5:15 a.m. Thanksgiving.

TheCenterville mother of two teenagers wanted plenty of time to pick what gifts she wanted to buy just before the deals started at 6 a.m.

“They had certain things on sale that I was interested in getting before they sold out,” she said as she placed a guitar, winter jacket and Xbox controllers in her shopping cart. “I don’t have to fight the mall traffic.”

She expected to hit Walmart at 6 p.m. Thursday, part of her Christmas shopping plan of action for the next three days. On Black Friday, she vowed to return earlier to Meijer for more deals.

“You just map your day and your time, that’s all,” she said.

The Xbox 360, iPad Air and iPad Mini were three of the most popular items during the early morning sale, said Meijer store director Mike Burkhart.

“When I got here at 5 o’clock this morning we had lines developed already for these key items,” he said.

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