As J.C. Penney opened its doors at 6 a.m. Friday, eager shoppers surged forward, snapping up $8 kitchen appliances.
You saw a griddle under one arm and a slow cooker under the other, said Teresa Taylor, store leader.
The stores top two hours Friday, based on sales as of late afternoon, were between 6 and 8 in the morning. Though the pace eased a bit after the sun came up, it remained strong and steady all day, Taylor said.
Im very pleased with the results we are having today, she said.
Crowds amassed at Boise Towne Square on what ShopperTrak predicted would again be the biggest shopping day of the year. By midmorning, 80 percent of the malls parking lot was full.
Midnight to 3 a.m. was huge, said spokeswoman Tina Kierce.
The mall seemed busier this Black Friday than last, she said. Its self-service kiosk was more popular this year with shoppers who were picking up gift cards.
This season could end the tradition of Black Friday being the start of the holiday shopping season. Walmart, Target, Sears, Kmart and other stores welcomed customers before the turkey was cold or even in the oven on Thanksgiving, turning the busiest time of the year into a two-day affair.
Despite an outcry from some employees, store managers and shoppers seemed to like it.
Chris Godfrey, general manager of the Sears at Boise Towne Square, said his 8 p.m. Thanksgiving opening exceeded expectations. Sears was the first store to open in the mall, by four hours. It took 45 minutes to get all the customers in. At times, he had to hold back customers because parts of the store were at capacity.
Im in shock, he said.
People inside Sears by 10 p.m. waited six hours for a sale to buy a 50-inch plasma TV for $299.
Godfrey said hed do it again. Retail is about giving customers what they want, he said.
Overall, the National Retail Federation estimates that sales in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, below last years 5.6 percent growth rate.
Every retailer wants to beat everyone else, said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of Americas Research Group, a firm based in Charleston, S.C. Shoppers love it.
As Black Friday dims, Saturday emerges as small businesses time to try to grab customers. Today marks the third annual Small Business Saturday, when the little guys across the country try to lure buyers with products and down-home service, said B.J. Klotz, co-owner of McU Sports, which has been in business in Boise for 40 years.
McU, with two locations in Boise, prides itself on quality service and having capable employees on hand to help customers with purchases.
You want attention, she said. You want that knowledge of a salesperson.
As for Black Friday? She likes to think of it as White Friday, a time to pray for snow.
It helps boost the winter economy, she said. And prayer cant be bad for a place like McU, which sells outdoor gear and skis.
Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts. Statesman reporter Audrey Dutton and The Associated Press contributed.