Shoppers descend on Black Friday deals

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Cue the bargain hunters, and let the holiday shopping marathon begin.

Hordes of people plan to participate in retail's annual event. Most markdowns are available online, but plenty of brick-and-mortar stores opened on Thanksgiving Day.

Among them are Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Toys 'R' Us, Macy's, Kohl's, RadioShack and Kmart.

Other stores will wait until Friday morning to kick off holiday shopping, including H&M, T.J. Maxx, Staples, Barnes & Noble, GameStop, Bed Bath & Beyond and Babies 'R' Us.

The good news for retailers is that shoppers are ready to spend 25 percent more this year than last year -- or an average of $369 each. That's according to a survey from consulting firm Deloitte.

Walmart pledged to offer many great deals online this year, with its Black Friday sales starting online at 3 a.m. Thursday morning. But many shoppers still opted to brave the store in-person.

In the suburban town of Wallingford, Conn., hundreds of people were at Walmart shortly before the store kicked off its sale deals at 6 p.m. Thursday.

While some shoppers wandered through the aisles, looking at deeply discounted clothing and home goods, many in the store gathered in organized lines snaking through the aisles -- hoping to snag one of the tablets, flat-screen TVs and other electronics that made up most of the store's Black Friday ad.

Some of the most popular items included: a 32-inch Roku TV for $125, a 7-inch RCA Tablet for $28.88 and a Nintendo Wii U bundle for $249. Meanwhile, hundreds of people were waiting in line for the chance to buy a variety of video games and DVDs -- some at 50 percent off or more.

A handful of local police officers patrolled the store, along with dozens of employees -- many donning festive reindeer ears. Still, the crowds were relatively orderly as they waited around the store in lines roped off with yellow caution tape.

Some shoppers told CNNMoney they had long been devoted Black Friday shoppers, recalling when they had hit Walmart and other stores early Friday morning. In more recent years, they ventured out Thursday evening after Thanksgiving dinner as Black Friday continued to encroach into the holiday.

"We do it every year," said D.J. Culver, 32, as he waited in line to buy himself the $28.88 tablet. "You really can't beat some of the deals."

While Culver and his friend had already hit Big Lots and Family Dollar before ending up at Walmart, he said he still had time to eat two Thanksgiving meals with family earlier in the day.

Others said they had only been driven to the store by a particular deal.

"I have mixed emotions," said Mary Naccarato, who came to the store with her two teenage daughters in search of $200 in savings on the new iPhone 6s. "I passed up dessert with my family to do this."

Seconds later, she learned from an employee that the store may not have any more of the phone in stock. While a few sale items were covered by a "1-hour guarantee," most had limited quantities -- meaning some shoppers left the store empty handed.

In Manhattan, crowds came out in droves to the Times Square Toys "R" Us' final Black Friday. The store has been in Times Square since 2001, but it's not renewing its lease after it runs out in January 2016.

The place was so packed with shoppers that it was hard to move. Rosa Medina of The Bronx hauled three massive tote bags filled with toys for her toddler son, including Avengers like the Hulk and Captain America but not Mega Buster, which was sold out. She planned to hunt him down on Cyber Monday.

Medina said that Black Friday was rife with deals, with many toys at half price or 60 percent off. But Nikki Jones of Scotland, a vacationer who had dropped in to get some Paw Patrol toys for her toddler son, said it wasn't worth it because of the crowds.

"I can't stand it," she said while waiting in line for the cashier. "It's too busy."

While stores like Walmart and Toys "R" Us embrace the Black Friday tradition, shoppers shouldn't plan on heading over to REI. The outdoor and fitness gear retailer announced it will be closed on the biggest shopping day of the year.

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