Holiday shoppers were out in force for one of the earliest starts to the Black Friday bargain hunt. And while consumer hope to save big bucks, retailers are counting on this rush.
In the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of shoppers at the Macy's in the Galleria waited for the doors to open. Serious bargain hunters don't just flood the stores when the doors open. They have plans.
"My friend knew the secret parking spot and we're actually going to go straight to three stores," said one Black Friday shopper with whom we spoke.
Black Friday started earlier than ever when Walmart decided to open at 10pm Thursday night. If the crowd is any indicator, the sales could start even earlier next year. Crowds were looking for electronics, TVs in particular.
At Toys-R-Us on the Katy Freeway, hundreds more were ready to shop. Electronics were also on their list.
At some Best Buys, people started camping out as early as Monday. The tents were been removed so more people could fit in line on the sidewalk before the store opened. At the Fry's down the street, the line was hundreds of feet deep. Deep discounts on computers drew the most attention.
"I'm looking to get an Android tablet," said one shopper with whom we spoke, who told us the price was $67.
By daybreak, the crowds were thinning, but there were still deals to be had. Rickki Gibbs saved a couple of hundred dollars on a new TV.
"I got a 43-inch for $399," she told us. "So that was pretty good. And that was the same deal they were advertising online and it was still here. I didn't want to get at 12 o'clock at night to fight people."
Shopping in Galveston, too
Shopping isn't limited to Houston's massive malls. On Galveston Island, shoppers were just as intense in their search for bargains. On Galveston's Strand, shoppers filled the sidewalks looking for the elusive deal. Many there are tourists mingling in the crowds, trying to walk off Thursday's big meal.
The shops on Galveston's Strand are open and fully staffed in preparation for this weekend's holiday crowds. Most shoppers we talked to didn't really have a specific item they were looking for. Instead, they were enjoying the hunt for bargains and knick-knacks.
Besides the shops, the restaurants and bars are also open hoping to attract the holiday crowds.
By the numbers
On this Black Friday and for the next three days, millions of Americans will be spending billions of dollars on deals. The National Retail Federation says 10 percent more people will be shopping this weekend than this time last year. They'll spend $456 billion.