(CBS News) Black Friday is in full swing, but it started on Thursday night as thousands of stores across the country opened after Thanksgiving dinner.
Toys "R" Us was among those retailers competing for customers on Thanksgiving.
Asked about the backlash over the so-called "Black Friday creep" into Thanksgiving -- that people should be home spending time with family and not at stores -- Jerry Storch, CEO of the toy chain, said, "Well, it's Thursday night, keep in mind, we are talking about 8 p.m. at night already. Secondly it's what our customers asked for."
Shoppers are expected to spend more than $11 billion Friday. Retailers expect to make up to 10 percent of their all-important holiday profits this weekend. And the National Retail Federation predicts sales for the entire holiday season will be four percent higher than last year. (At left: Black Friday starts early)
Some retailers, such as Toys "R" Us, are trying strategies to get customers off-line and into stores. Storch showed CBS News products unique to Toys "R" Us that are designed to get shoppers into brick-and-mortar locations.
E-commerce is expected to rise 15 to 18 percent this year. To counter that, Best Buy instructed sales clerks to try to keep customers in-store longer and guard against "showrooming" -- where shoppers browse in-store, but then buy online.
Retailers like Macy's are using customized apps to reel in shoppers.
Retailers are also trying to integrate the online and in-store experience. Target stores use an app that lets customers gain points by simply walking in the store and then directs you to other deals. Target also uses an app that lets you scan the barcode of some of their top-selling toys and you can ship those toys to anywhere in the country for free.
"On Black Friday the store is euphoric... it's a huge party, this store is teeming with people who are excited to be here. It's a celebratory atmosphere actually," said Storch. "It's also just an incredible sea of humanity."
One analyst predicted that about half of the shoppers will buy, and many will just look. Shoppers -- on average -- are predicted to spend $770 on Christmas gifts this year -- roughly what was spent a year ago. Up to 147 million people are expected to shop on Black Friday and over the weekend.
Dana Telsey, a retail analyst, noted that this year, people have a longer time to shop.
"Typically, between Black Friday and Christmas its 26 to 32 days. It's 32 days this year."