Thanksgiving shoppers are the earliest of early birds, and they've usually got Christmas on the brain.
Again this year Kmart and Wal-Mart, two of the country's largest retailers, opened their doors on Thanksgiving. FAO Schwartz, the venerable toy retailer, joined in. Its stores in New York, Chicago and Las Vegas were open for the first time on Thanksgiving.
The deals at one Kmart in Burbank, Calif., lured many away from food, family and football. Gary Okimoto saved $260 on a TV, but spent four hours in the cold, waiting for his shopping opportunity.
"We had a heater out there, some lawn chairs," Okimoto said. "I was going to bring the poker table, but I couldn't fit it in the car."
This year, there are 32 shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Some years have had as few as 26 days for Americans to indulge in retail therapy. Still, many retailers are hoping to squeeze in a few extra hours of this megamonth of shopping.
J.C. Penney opens Friday morning at 4, an hour earlier than last year. Many outlet stores unlock their doors at midnight. CompUSA will open its stores on Thanksgiving evening at 9.
This morning, hunters were gathering bargains at the Bass Pro Shop, also open for shoppers.
Jim Crompton at the Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., store scheduled his chores around his shopping.
"I put the turkey in at four this morning," he said with a laugh. "It's cooking now!"
This retail rush happens in the wake of lackluster fall sales, rising food and gas prices and months of mortgage mayhem.
Retail analyst Christine Augustine from The Wall Street Journal explained the rush to slash prices for early-bird consumers.
"I think a lot of the reason we're seeing these earlier-than-ever promotions by retailers is because … the consumers have been a little more reluctant this year to part with their money," Augustine said.
Online shoppers are also finding bargains without the long waits and crushing crowds. Wal-Mart and Macy's began offering Black Friday deals today on the Web.
But for many, there's still nothing like queuing up in the cold, waiting for the hot bargains — even if that means spending Thanksgiving at Kmart.