THE US shopping frenzy known as Black Friday kicked off early with retailers such as Target and Toys R Us opening on Thursday night.
Despite the threat of a "fiscal cliff"of tax hikes and spending cuts taking effect in January, the National Retail Federation expects sales during the holiday season to grow 4.1pc this year, not as strong as last year.
"I think spending is better for the economy. You should spend. If you save all your money, that will only make it worse," said Saiful Islam (21), a New York accounting student who queued with hundreds of others at Best Buy to get a TV, a laptop and a PlayStation.
Across the country, queues were long, numbering in the hundreds or more in many places.
The stakes are high for US retailers, who can earn more than one-third of their annual revenue during the holiday season, which generally starts with Black Friday. The retail federation said 147 million people would shop from today through to Sunday, when deals are at their most eye-catching – down from 152 million the same weekend last year.
Wal-Mart offered Black Friday deals at 8pm on Thursday and special deals on iPads at 10pm. (Reuters)