NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – They skipped Thanksgiving dinner, they braved the elements and they waited in line for hours all for a piece of the Black Friday action.
With holiday sales making up to 40 percent of annual revenue, retailers were hoping to get a bigger chunk of a shopper's budget began offering Black Friday deals last night.
"Retailers this year are not only offering earlier deals but they're basically offering more systematic deals now all throughout the holiday season," said retail analyst Marshall Cohen.
"I wouldn't be buying anything if it wasn't like a real discount. I have a lot of gifts to buy and I need to save some money too," Natalie Michelle of Canarsie told CBS 2's Sean Hennessey.
However, a new report says Black Friday isn't drawing as many shoppers as store owners would like, as the sputtering economy leads many shoppers to cut way back on non-essentials.
WCBS 880's Monica Miller With The Numbers
"Far far less, one quarter of what I spent last year," said shopper Heather Brown. "I'm down from buying my kids like 10 gifts to like two."
"I'm probably a good 60 percent less than I did last year," said Vicky Johnson of Alabama.
The Black Friday Shopping Bag Tally showed a five percent drop in purchases compared to last year, according to Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership.
"For exactly the same period, we had 51,557 bags counted. This year, we're down by five percent overall - 49,024," he told WCBS 880 reporter Monica Miller.
Biederman says Herald Square makes up one of the world's busiest shopping districts with a variety of stores selling items at different price points.
"There may, obviously, a little noise in these figures, but it seems like retailers who are working incredible hard to get into the stores are facing the headwinds of the general economy," he said.
WCBS 880's Sophia Hall On The Story At Roosevelt Field
There were shoppers who seemed unaffected by the country's high unemployment and weakening consumer confidence.
"We'll probably spend the same as we have in the past," said Mark Payler of Denver.
"I am going to spend more than last year," said Vicki Garcia of Houston.
This weekend, the National Federation of Retailers expects 152 million to shop either in stores or online, and expects holiday sales to grow by only 2.8 percent, a far cry from last year when holiday sales jumped by 5.2 percent.
John Merselis of the Call It Spring shoe store is counting on a double digit bump over last season.
"I'm shooting for 15 percent so right now we're at 10. We have a few more weeks left in the season and I think we should be about 15 percent to the season," he said.
1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg In Secaucus
Not everyone saw lower numbers. Retailers at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island already reported a 200 percent increase in sales—all before 9 a.m. on Friday, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reports.
Some retailers make 40 percent of their yearly profits all on this day, and the hustle and bustle of malls like Monroe's Woodbury Common outlet mall and Elmhurst's Queens Center Mall offers a perfect example.
Both malls were jammed packed with shoppers since midnight, and some consumers showed no signs of letting up.
"I'm fresh right now, but I won't be so happy in the next few hours," Queens resident Larry Williams said. Williams came with his girlfriend and won't be leaving anytime soon. "She's gonna have me in a couple stores, I feel."
Isabel Sierra, meanwhile, was just wrapping up her shopping shortly before 5 a.m.
"I'm done. I'm just waiting for my boyfriend to get out of Best Buy so that's going to take a while," she said.
At the Banana Republic, which opened with the rest of the mall at midnight, the staff has settled in for the long haul. The store won't close until 11 p.m. on Friday.
"We're pumped, we're excited, we're happy to be here and to offer all your viewers and our customers our great discounts that we have available at Banana Republic," employee Nelson Rosario said.
At the Woodbury Common outlet mall, another shopper was dragged along by his girlfriend.
"She makes me do this every year, but I don't like doing this every year. It's just too much," he told CBS 2's Kristin Thorne.
Meanwhile, in Seacacus, N.J., shoppers started at the Toys R Us at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and were still going strong Friday.
"I left the house at 11:45 and I've been out there since then and I'll be shopping all day," one shopper told 1010 WINS' Steve Sandberg.
Some, however, thought that 9 p.m. the night before was too early for shopping.
"You know, that's a little too early," the shopper said. "Going out Black Friday is fine. I can get what I need when I come."
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