LOS ANGELES --Security has been tightened at shopping malls around the U.S., with nearly 136 million people expected to hit the stores this weekend for the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.
Thanksgiving is about spending time with family and friends, even if it's inside a tent in a parking lot.
Thomas Berrera has been waiting outside of a Los Angeles Best Buy since Monday morning.
"We did the math and we are probably saving a good four or five hundred bucks," Berrera told CBS News.
All that saving encourages big spending, according to retail analyst Burt Flickinger.
"Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, $80 billion will be spent online as well as in stores," Flickinger told CBS News.
On average, shoppers are expected to each spend more than $800 this holiday season. That's up more than three percent from last year. Much of that spending will go toward big ticket items, like cars and electronics.
Best Buy is hoping to get a bigger piece of the pie by opening Thanksgiving evening. Art Jamgochian is a store manager near Los Angeles.
"We listen to what our customers are saying," said Jamgochian. 'They've told us they want something to do after Thanksgiving dinner."
But that plan backfired for some retailers last year and led to a boycott.
"That boycott was quite effective. In fact, sales went down four percent on Black Friday weekend, in part because of that backlash," Flickinger said.
This year, that's leading some stores to advertise the fact that they won't be open on Thanksgiving Day, including T.J. Maxx and REI.
It's a policy appreciated by shoppers like Meri Kaeller.
"I can respect them for that because I feel like more and more stores are open later and earlier, and Thanksgiving just becomes washed out," she said.
In addition to cars, Apple products and "Star Wars" merchandise are expected to be big sellers this year.