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Takeaway from Black Friday 2013: Thanksgiving is changing

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The first takeaway from Black Friday 2013: Thanksgiving is changing.

For all the talk of shopping boycotts — on the grounds that family values exceed the desire to save a few bucks — American consumerism has triumphed. The crowds that typically appear before dawn Friday showed up at what’s traditionally dinnertime on Thursday.

At a Target in Philadelphia, Qiana Roberts skipped a family dinner for a spot in line. Colin Cook ate extra early on Thursday to join the hordes at J.C. Penney in Wayne, N.J.

Shoppers say workers should be home with their loved ones. But they’ll head out anyway.

“I don’t like that the hours are earlier. I think people should be able to be with their families on Thanksgiving,” said Kim Schaefer as she shopped for shoes at J.C. Penney.

Ishamar Dorma cut out of Thanksgiving festivities a little early to hit the West Philadelphia Target around 4 p.m., four hours before the doors would open. He wanted to get himself a little belated birthday gift, as he has turned 23 on Wednesday.

He was among the first 50 in line to get a ticket for the doorbuster prize, a 50-inch Element TV, normally $600, but on sale for $229.

“It’s a good birthday gift,” said Dorma, whose sheepish grin briefly emerged from an orange knit scarf and striped hat.

Here are the kinds of discounts that beckoned them: A 50-inch Element TV going for $229 instead of $600. Half-carat diamond earrings priced at $79. Side deals like Target’s $100 gift card with every iPad.

That last one convinced Charlie Wu don his parka and brave the freezing weather outside a Target in New Jersey.

“I’ll buy as many iPads as they’ll let me buy,” he said. Some will go out as gifts. But he said he’ll take advantage of the temporarily low prices and sell the rest online.

On the bright side, shoppers said the early start led to a calmer experience this holiday season. The typical rush into stores gave way to cool-headed families meandering through store aisles, perhaps still under the sleep-inducing effect of a full-sized dinner of turkey and cranberry sauce.

“I wouldn’t have gone out on Friday — it’s too crowded,” said Ann Delrio, who took to a J.C. Penney in New Jersey.

The lines were still long though, and people gave up dinner entirely to score a spot in line.

Still, there were reports of fights. On Twitter, the hashtag #WalmartFights became a top search term as people posted videos of violent brawls over low-priced products.

–CNNMoney’s Annalyn Kurtz and Jennifer Liberto contributed to this story

3 comments

  • Arisa Uzimaki-Lincoln

    My family and I have several years ago decided to no longer celebrate winter holidays. This year though we decided we will no longer gift give, buy nonessentials or accept gifts during the winter holiday season. It’s sad that people act this way.

  • Fantasia

    People have lost the true meaning of Christmas. We no longer exchange gifts since all the kids are grown. Us adults can buy anything we want throughout the year. Why put your loved ones through the chaos of Christmas shopping to get you something you may not find exactly to your liking, and then have to go through the hassle of Christmas gift returns yourself? Uggghhhhh…..no thanks. We enjoy a nice family gathering with loved ones and friends and eat great food, have great conversations, and thank the Lord for our many blessings in this great Nation. After all, Jesus is the reason for the Season.

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