It’s open season on bargains.
Merchants were poised to kick off Black Friday with an early-morning bang amid long lines. But really, why wait when millions of dedicated shoppers are ready to carve up Thanksgiving deals?
Bargain hunters trotted to the stores before and after their turkey time Thursday — part of a growing trend among retailers to grab customer dollars ahead of Black Friday and keep Cyber Monday e-tailers from taking too big a bite from the holiday-dollar pie.
Kmart went in for extreme shopping with a decision to open for 42 hours straight, from 6 a.m. Thursday to midnight Friday.
“This is the only day I really have off, so thank God some of the stores are open,” said Marrian Cayenne, 51, of Brooklyn, at the Kmart on W. 34th St. She scooped up clothes, trinkets and toys — all at deep discounts.
“The shopping was fabulous,” said the Mount Sinai Hospital worker. “Prices were unbelievable.”
Experts said there’s no doubt the earlier openings on Thanksgiving are eating into Black Friday’s traditional sales. Those sales dropped 13.2%, to $9.74 billion, on Black Friday 2013 over the previous year — due to Thanksgiving sales, retail analysts said.
Still, Black Friday remains the premier shopping day of the year, and there are plenty of long lines to prove it.
Bargain hunters who didn’t want to brave the cold temperatures and delays until doors opened relied on Task Rabbit to hire stand-ins. The online company was busy finding people willing to hold someone’s place in line for $22 an hour.
In New York City, no waiting was necessary at the Kmart on W. 34th St., which opened its doors well ahead of Black Friday. The store was buzzing with customers doing early Christmas shopping or out for a holiday splurge.
Manager José Coca, 36, said the store has been open on Thanksgiving for the past three years, and each Turkey Day has been better than the last.
“The store is busier every year on Thanksgiving,” he said. “We notice a big influx in traffic, everybody is looking for those really good deals — they expect to find those deals.”
The line heading into the Best Buy on Fifth Ave. stretched three blocks prior to its 5 p.m. opening. Bronx mom Cynthia Smith waited for more than an hour to buy a 50-inch flatscreen TV for her daughter. But even before she walked out of the store, she was starting to regret the experience. “We work too hard for this!” Smith said. “This is the one day you get to spend with your family.”
Myint Lwin, 50, of Elmhurst disagreed, and during a shopping break at Starbucks he showed his reason why — four bags filled with clothes and household items.
“I saved $50 just on this,” Lwin crowed as he pulled out a white cotton bedspread from JCPenney. He then pointed to a toaster oven. “I saved another $40 on that.”
The Queens man, in fact, prefers not to shop on Black Friday.
“It’s too busy,” he said. “It’s better to come here on Thanksgiving and then celebrate Thanksgiving on Black Friday.”
Strong sales on Black Friday are an important indicator of the nation’s overall financial health. But that only goes so far. Black Friday sales have also slumped when the economy is doing well, analysts say. Families rely on deep discounts when they’re really counting pennies, according to Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation.
Last year, more than a dozen retailers opened Thanksgiving night. This year about half of them, including Target, Macy’s, Staples and JCPenney, among many others, opted to start doing business a day earlier.
With Chelsia Rose Marcius and News Wire Services