Black Friday deals draw crowds across the county

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CHULA VISTA, Calif. -- Shoppers wasted no time once Thanksgiving dinner was done, flocking to stores for Black Friday deals starting Thursday evening -- and major shopping areas remained busy through Friday afternoon.

Many stores and malls, including Fashion Valley Mall, Westfield Mission Valley and The Shoppes at Carlsbad opened to customers on Thanksgiving night, closed for the early morning hours and re-opened again Friday morning. Others, including Carlsbad Premium Outlets and Las Americas Premium Outlets, were to be open from late on Thanksgiving Day all the way through Friday night.

Best Buy was set to open at 5 p.m., but one committed shopper waited a full 24 hours just to make sure he was first in line.

"Brought some lawn chairs, bunch of covers, it wasn’t really that cold. I was here last year and it was colder," Jesse Canales told FOX 5.

Once the doors opened, it was smooth sailing.

"Actually the wait was about 20 minutes, so it wasn’t that bad at all," said one shopper.

Others also praised the store's organization. "Last year was just really confusing, but this year even getting inside was super smooth and really to fast check out," said Kingsley Ramos.

Shopping the deals with ease seemed to be the theme this year, with reportedly more than 40 spots available to check out between cashiers and mobile check outs throughout the store.

Best Buy closed at 1 a.m. and reopened at 8 a.m. with new deals available. SkyFOX cruised the county and spotted plenty of shoppers at local malls, but most parking lots appeared to still have spaces:

Some shoppers said crowds were thinner than in years past and law enforcement across the region confirmed there were no reports of disputes of brawls over discounted items Friday.

Climbing online sales could potentially be a factor in the thinner Black Friday crowds.

Online shopping nationally has jumped 15.2 percent in the first nine months of the year, compared to last year, said Raymond Sfeir, director of Cal State Fullerton's A. Gary Anderson Center for Economic Research.

The annual Cyber Monday online retail event will mark the beginning of the holiday shopping season for many younger discount hawks, Sfeir said.

"I expect ecommerce to grab an even larger portion of retail this year," Sfeir said. "It's sad to see so many stores closing in different malls and shopping centers, including a lot of clothing stores, but for young people that's where they shop these days. They like to take out the cellphone and click a few times and get something in the mail."

It's more convenient in some ways, but without trying clothes on in a store it leads to a lot of returns, Sfeir said.

"They'll order five things and keep one and ship back the rest," Sfeir said. "For the new generation that's what they're used to. They're not used to touching things and kicking the tires so to speak in the stores."

Monday sales are "increasing at a faster rate than the sales on Friday and the (Thanksgiving) weekend in general," Sfeir said.

He predicts a strong shopping season at brick-and-mortar stores, though, based on positive economic indicators.

"We have very good employment data, and that is very important -- the unemployment rate is extremely low," Sfeir said.

The stock market has been retreating, but Sfeir does not think that will affect shopping this weekend.

"I think it will be fine," he said. "Profits are still strong, the economy is doing well and GDP is expected to grow next year. A little less than this year, though."

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