ATLANTA — Black Friday had an early start again this year as shoppers flocked to shopping centers, malls and stores across Georgia.
Early numbers aren't out yet on how many shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving. But it's expected that more than three times the number of people who shopped on Thanksgiving will venture out to shop on the day after the holiday known as Black Friday.
In Atlanta, many took advantage of Black Friday deals, purchasing everything from 55-inch flat screen televisions to video game consoles.
For Chip Gentry of Atlanta, it was his first time shopping at stores on Black Friday instead of online. He bought an Xbox One and extra controller, saving about $150 on the console, he said.
"Now, I'm looking for the deals online and going out to stores to get them," said Gentry, who was joined his father and mother. "I'm looking at what some online sites are charging for shipping. Then again, it's nice to come out and touch the actually product. You have a better sense of what you're getting instead making a guess from a picture online."
Gentry's change in his shopping approach, believing there would be more shoppers online. He was surprised by the amount of deals from each store and variety of people willing to spend big bucks on items.
Gentry's mother, Juanita Gentry, who accompanied him, bought the movie "Gone Girl" on DVD for $3.99. But that wasn't the first purchase made. She recently bought a new car, refrigerator, dishwasher and two vacuums through early-bird holiday deals at stores. She said she can't remember seeing so many deals on appliances and televisions.
In Kennesaw, one of metro Atlanta's largest malls took on the feel of a slumber party early Friday morning. Many shoppers at Town Center at Cobb wore sweat pants and sweat shirts. A few even wore their pajamas.
Scott and Meredith Oakley of Marietta brought their teenage girls, partly for the experience of getting up early and joining the crowds.
"It's just fun — something different," said Scott Oakley.
Nationwide, the National Retail Federation expected about 30 million to shop on Thanksgiving, compared with 99.7 million on Black Friday. Overall, the trade group estimates about 135.8 million people will be shopping during the four-day weekend, compared with 133.7 million last year. And it expects sales overall for November and December to rise 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion compared with the same period last year.