It is also a sign of how Thursday evening store openings have continued to hurt what has traditionally been a day that kicked off the USA holiday season.
With Thanksgiving landing six days later than previous year, retailers amped up their advertising and served up deep discounts on items such as appliances, sporting goods, televisions, consumers and toys, Woosley said. Black Friday is no longer really the beginning of holiday shopping or holiday bargains.
The retail group said it expects online and other non-store sales to increase between 11 percent and 14 percent for the holiday period.
Retail sales at brick-and-mortar stores are expected to grow 2% in November and 6% in December, thanks to favorable weather and a "year-end surge in disposable income", according to IBM, which utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze US Census and retail data. This record is over two times of the total sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the same year.
"We may not make a lot of money but we make a lot of friends".
A half-hour later, they sat with their purchases sharing a thermos of hot chocolate, a tradition Lopez started years ago when she had to wait in line for the store to open and the first shoppers inside got gifts like stuffed animals.
More than 165 million people are expected to be shopping over the weekend, per Adobe. The discounter said customers bought big ticket items like TVs, Apple iPads and Apple Watches.
For die-hard shoppers, Black Friday brought light to those who gathered before sunrise for bargains. The U.S. economy is still growing steadily, but gains have slowed since its sizzling start to the year.
"There were definitely some concerns about prices due to what we see in the news about the trade war but I haven't seen the impact yet, so I am planning to spend about the same this year as I have in the past", said Jay Smith, 28, who was shopping at a Macy's in Pentagon City to buy clothes and toys for her family. There's also been global backlash to the consumer holiday, with Amazon workers striking in Germany and climate protests in France.
Maria Mainville, a spokesman at Taubman Centers, which operates a little over 20 malls in the US, says that its centers reported strong customer traffic since earlier this week.
This year's events led to protests in parts of France, Germany, and the Netherlands, including environmental concerts outside of Amazon distribution centers and shopping centers with human chains.
At some malls, some shoppers were surprised at the relatively thin crowds.
"It looks empty for Black Friday", said Latoya Robinson, a student who lives in NY and planned to stop by Forever 21 and Macy's to shop for herself.