It has been called one of the busiest shopping days of the year where retailers make a profit and are “in the black.” For others, the name comes from the massive crowds of people scurrying around shopping malls in search of bargains. Regardless of how it got its name, Black Friday means good deals for shoppers and strong profits for retailers across the country.


Following national trends set in recent years, many local retailers opened their doors as early as Thursday afternoon. Crowds wrapped around the Sherman Town Center J.C. Penney location Thursday ahead of the store’s 2 p.m. opening. General Manager Terry Anderson said it took about an hour and a half to get the people in the store by allowing about 25 customers in every minute.


“We had savings coupons to hand out,” Anderson, who has worked 27 Black Fridays, said Friday morning. “We had about 1,000 of them, and we quickly ran out.”


Following larger crowds in recent years, Anderson said the department store opened Thursday afternoon and would remain open until 9 p.m. Friday night. While traffic slowed in previous years around 11 p.m., Anderson said Thanksgiving shopping remained strong through about 2 a.m. this year.


By opening early and remaining open overnight, Anderson said retailers can spread out the crowds over a period of time. Additionally, it allows shoppers more time to get good deals and shop at their convenience, he said.


Anderson attributed the large crowds Thursday to deals offered for early shoppers. The department store offered a $500 shopping spree to one lucky shopper Thursday, and 10 $100 sprees for a few others gathered at the store. Like last year, the store also offered a $20 deal on diamond earrings or a pendant.


“However, this year we ordered 10 times the amount we had last year because we ran out within 15 minutes,” he said.


For this year’s trends, Anderson said popular items have been varied, thanks in part to new offerings by the retailer this year. For the 2017 season, Anderson said J.C. Penney added electronics and a new toy department to its services.


While Sherman’s Best Buy was open Thursday, the store closed overnight and opened again Friday morning at 8 a.m. Among the larger crowd lined up outside the store was Ashley Gann of Gainesville, who was passing the time by taking selfies with friends.


Gann said this was the last stop on her Black Friday shopping trip, which started at with a 5 a.m. trip to Academy Sports and Outdoors for a sale on smokers. At Best Buy, Gann said she planned to purchase a laptop that was on sale for $179, but added that she might also pick up a few movies while she was there.


“It really is all about the deals you can get cheap today,” she said.


Meanwhile, Brandy Ray said she traveled from north of Durant, Oklahoma, just to purchase a new television set that was on sale. Ray added that she never gets out on Black Friday or buys into the retail hype.


“This is not something we normally do, but it really wasn’t that bad,” she said.


After entering the store, Ray said she wasn’t sure which television among the many models that were on sale was the one her son wanted. As she looked for the specific television, a line of other shoppers with shopping carts carrying identical television sets started to form behind her.


Despite the initial difficulty in finding the set, and the small crowds, Ray said she felt the trip was worth it simply for the deals. However, she said she still believes retailers are starting too early by opening on the holiday.


“I think they (employees) need to be with their family time on Thursday,” she said. “I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving before, and I didn’t like it at all.”


The National Retail Federation estimates that about 164 million people or, 69 percent of Americans, plan to shop during the 5-day Thanksgiving weekend. This includes shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, which historically sees deep discounts at online retailers.


Of those planning to shop, 54 percent of individuals plan to spend more than last year on holiday purchases. The same survey found that young adults, between the ages of 18-24, are the most likely to increase their spending.


“As Gen Z and millennials get older, their purchasing power increases and the rise in disposable income is sure to be seen by retailers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This group of consumers has spent time carefully researching gifts for friends, family and themselves, and are ready to begin knocking out their shopping lists.”