What the day is really about, she insists, is shopping.
McCray left her husband and three kids with her in-laws to camp out in front of Toys R Us on Wrightsboro Road at 3 p.m., six hours before the store opened, determined to be one of the first to get her hands on Black Friday sales.
“When people say I’m crazy, I say they’re crazy for not wanting to save money,” McCray said.
Hundreds of people camped out with blankets and folding chairs at stores Thursday, waiting for doors to unlock to start a nightlong marathon of Black Friday shopping.
While stores traditionally close for Thanksgiving, many opened Thursday evening to launch door-buster savings that will run through this afternoon.
At the head of the roughly 300-person line at Toys R Us, McCray quickly made friends with five other women who camped out to buy presents for their families.
All arriving early in the afternoon, the group held spots in line when one ran across Wrightsboro Road to use the bathroom at Waffle House. Ada Childress, 26, called it teamwork when she agreed to stand in a new friend’s parking spot while that woman took her car to get a snack.
“This means Christmas for all our children,” Childress said. “It’s so worth waiting in line.”
Becky Mogel, who arrived sixth in line at 4:30 p.m., said she had to resort to moonlight shopping to snag a coveted Fisher Price Power Wheels Ford Mustang for her 2-year-old daughter.
She heard a rumor that Toys R Us only had 10 pink Mustangs, and if she bought during the door-buster deals she’d save $150 on the present.
“With the economy the way it is, you have to do this,” Mogel said. “And I couldn’t take the chance of someone buying up the cars before tomorrow.”
Throughout Augusta, stores were offering discounts of 50 percent or more that began Thursday night and will last through today. In the retail industry, the deals are the official kick-off of holiday shopping, which economists expect to be on the rise this season.
Wells Fargo Securities economists estimated retail sales would increase by 5.2 percent from last year, mostly because of people being willing to charge to credit cards or spend extra cash.
“Even with all the worries about the global economy and the stock market, we expect consumers to step up enough to ensure a decent holiday season,” said Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Mark Vitner.
According to the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, many retailers planned to open doors at midnight, with consumers showing more interest in taking advantage of the sales.
This year, 34 percent of consumers said they planned to shop on Black Friday, topping the 31 percent in 2010 and significantly higher than the 26 percent in 2009, according to the council.
For Carissa Duzansky, there is nothing special about this season - bad economy or not. Black Friday shopping is a tradition for as long as she can remember.
“I live for today,” she said. “It’s my favorite day of the year because I just love saving money.”
Duzansky ordered her family to eat the Thanksgiving meal at noon so she could nap, plan, cut coupons and start camping out at stores at 6 p.m. When she was done shopping at Toys R Us, Duzansky planned to hit Sears, Walmart, J.C. Penney and Staples, all before
“Most everything I’ll get is 50 percent off, so I may be crazy, but I really do like it,” she said.