Thedford, general manager for Don's TV & Appliance in Tyler, said although the local business opened only one hour early on Black Friday, sales were great.
He said the trend he saw this year was that Black Friday deals started much earlier than usual, with manufacturers starting their sales on televisions and appliances last Monday.
Thedford said their business was up 12 percent in sales on Friday and Saturday, over last year, but saw an 18 percent increase in sales for the week, compared to the same time a year ago.
It's estimated that U.S. shoppers hit stores and websites at record numbers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation. A record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the weekend, up 9.2 percent from last year, the Associated Press reported.
LED TVs — the “newer, thinner, lighter, brighter” televisions, especially the larger, 55-inch and above models, are this year's hot electronics item at Don's TV & Appliance, Thedford said.
The store continued to be busy Monday morning, Thedford said. Cyber Monday is better known for people shopping online for big deals, instead of in stores.
It's estimated that this year's Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of the year for the third year in a row. Research firm comScore predicted Americans will spend $1.5 billion, up 20 percent from last year, according to the Associated Press.
“It starts on a very positive note,” he said of the kick off to holiday shopping. “We believe it will continue through Christmas.”
Other local retailers also saw scores of shoppers starting their Christmas buying earlier this year, as well as longer lines for Black Friday deals.
Bill Miner, operations manager for Academy Sports + Outdoors in Tyler, said the store saw strong business for the two weeks leading up to Black Friday. Academy in Tyler had a line of about 320 people wrapped around its building when the doors opened at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
In the three and a half years he has worked at the store, he said business for the Thanksgiving weekend has been the strongest he has seen.
“We had phenomenal traffic; much larger than last year,” he said.
Hot deal items were a big draw, Miner said. Popular merchandise included a 13-foot trampoline, basketball goals, iron fire pits, patio heaters, and most hunting and fishing equipment sold extremely well all weekend, he said.
“We're looking forward to a very strong December,” he said.
Monica Bermea, director of marketing in business development for Simon Property Group, said Broadway Square Mall had thousands of people waiting for the mall to open at midnight for Black Friday. She said there were about 300 people lined up at Victoria's Secret alone. Old Navy and the Buckle also had large crowds when they opened at midnight.
Ms. Bermea said Sears did really well over the weekend, offering extra specials and really pushing savings on their appliances.
She said the department store's sales were a great increase over last year.
While some stores in the mall launched pre-Thanksgiving Day special releases, Champs offered special sales during the early morning hours of Black Friday and released a new shoe later, at 8 a.m. Many stores offered different sales for Saturday. She said all the stores matched or exceeded their plans for the weekend.
Jeff Olver, sales manager for Bath & Body Works, said they had a larger group of shoppers waiting outside their store when it opened at midnight for Black Friday than the store did last year.
Customers were looking for their popular Holiday Traditions line, as well as new fragrances.
He said they also have had a lot of people buying earlier this year to beat the holiday crowds and take advantage of their seasonal fall items.
“We're anticipating having a really booming holiday season,” Olver said.
Ms. Bermea said traffic and sales at the Tyler mall have been consistent in the past year for local dollars, and she expects that to continue throughout the season.
As she watched the crowds of shoppers on Black Friday, Ms. Bermea said she saw several groups of people wearing customized Black Friday shirts — “truly the Black Friday diehards here just enjoying, taking advantage and making it tradition.”
“It's just looking good for us this season,” she said.