Black Friday...Big Apple style

Macy's and Best Buy were packed with bargain hunters but you could hear crickets at Pier 1 and some apparel retailers in New York.

By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Shoppers hit the streets early and often in the Big Apple this Black Friday. And by late morning, many were already weary.

"My feet are killing me," said Denise, outside of the Macy's flagship store in Herald Square at about 10:30 a.m..

The flagship Macy's store in New York was among one of the more popular Black Friday destinations in the Big Apple...
outside_bestbuy_220.jpg was the Best Buy. Shoppers loaded up on DVDs, MP3 players, laptops and flat-screen TVs.
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She said she hit the Toys R' Us in Times Square when it opened at 6 a.m. to get some Hot Wheels toys for her nieces and nephews. And after buying some boots for her husband at Macy's, she was ready to call it a day.

But many were willing to put up with the lack of sleep, the crowds and sore feet to take advantage of Black Friday sales.

Kay, a shopper outside of the Best Buy (Charts) on 23rd Street, said she bought a Sansa MP3 player for $34 for her nephew and a portable DVD player for herself for only $69.99. She said her sister was planning on getting her the DVD player for Christmas and that she saw the same DVD player elsewhere for $140.

"It may be presumptuous of me to buy it myself but I just saved her a lot of money," she joked.

Some lamented that they did not make it to the stores earlier to capitalize on the best deals. "We were not here early enough," said a shopper named Carlos outside the Best Buy.

Although he and fellow shopper Lisa picked up a hard drive and some movies for themselves, they said they were disappointed to find that most of the items that the Best Buy Web site touted - including laptops and flat-screen TVs - were already gone by 8 a.m.

The Best Buy was extremely busy Friday morning - the store's general manager estimated shortly after 8 a.m. that traffic at the store was up about 40 percent from the first few hours of Black Friday last year. The store opened at 5 a.m.

Demand for consumer electronics clearly was strong. A GameStop (Charts) store on 33rd and Broadway was full of customers asking questions about Sony's new PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii consoles. The store was sold out of the PS3 but did have Wiis available.

The Federated Department Stores (Charts)-owned Macy's in Herald Square, aka The World's Largest Store, was also packed, though fairly orderly. Despite long lines and crowded aisles that made navigating the store a perilous endeavor (especially since many shoppers were lugging around armfuls of bags as well as kids), people's tempers remained in check.

Priscilla, who arrived at Macy's at 5 a.m., said there was some pushing and shoving when the store first opened, but that other than that, the lines weren't too bad.

Not all stores were jammed with bargain hunters. Carlos said he went to the CompUSA in Columbus Circle at 6:30 a.m. and that there were only two or three customers.

Other stores were also relatively empty. An Old Navy on 6th Avenue in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood had few customers in it around 9 a.m..

The same was also the case for a nearby Sports Authority, although that store's manager said there were more crowds earlier in the day. That store opened at 5:30 a.m.

A Pier 1 Imports (Charts) on 5th Avenue was desolate, despite signs promising 50 percent off of kitchen and dining goods.

And many of the stores in the Manhattan Mall, including an Aeropostale (Charts) and Express, were not particularly packed.

A manager at the GameStop, which is across from the Manhattan Mall, speculated that people might be more interested on Black Friday in scooping up items that are at more of a risk of selling out. So it's more important to shop for hot gadgets and games as opposed to T-shirts and other clothing.

Overall, people said they were intrigued by the big discounts and that their credit cards were working overtime.

So how much did people plan to spend?

"It depends on how good the deals are," said Carlos.

Priscilla said she had already spent about $170 at Macy's and that she planned to spend $300 overall on Black Friday. She said that amounts to about half of her total holiday shopping budget, adding that this amount is about the same as last year.

Denise joked that she would spend until she ran out of money before adding that she was planning to spend around $1,000 and that this also was about the same as last year.

Some people were willing to spend more on gifts than they did last year though. Luise, a tourist from England, said outside the Macy's that she just got a raise so she planned on spending more, particularly for her friends' children.

Still, by late morning, it seemed many were worn out. So even with the promise of more deals, it was tough for some to justify staying out much longer.

"I want to go to Macy's and then go home," said Kay. "This is scary. It's like survival of the fittest."

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