The usual frenzy of Black Friday morning shopping was replaced by a calm, steady flow of shoppers and ample parking spaces at local shopping centers Bridgewater Falls in Fairfield Twp. and Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe.

The usual frenzy of Black Friday morning shopping was replaced by a calm, steady flow of shoppers and ample parking spaces at local shopping centers Bridgewater Falls in Fairfield Twp. and Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe.

The shopping centers’ anchor stores, including Best Buy, Target and Nike, opened beginning at 8 p.m. Thursday. Many retailers opened earlier than ever this year on Thanksgiving Day for the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season.

“Last night was definitely busier than it was this morning, but we’ve had a steady flow since 6, 7 o’clock this morning,” said Ashley Martin, spokeswoman for Bridgewater Falls. “I did notice the stores, right before they opened, was the busiest time for most of them.”

Most stores at Bridgewater remain open until 8 to 10 p.m. tonight, Martin said.

Shoppers began lining up for deals at 5 p.m. Thursday outside Nike, Coach, Banana Republic and other stores at the outdoor outlet mall, said Alaina Norbeck, director of marketing and business development for Cincinnati Premium Outlets. Stores at Cincinnati Premium are open until 10 p.m. today.

The outlets’ shuttle service last night to off-site parking gave way to empty spaces in the parking lot by 10 a.m. Friday morning.

Morgan Hanley of Louisville, Ky., said her and her daughters aren’t “big shoppers, but the crowds this morning aren’t bad.”

The National Retail Foundation predicted 33 million shoppers would head out to stores Thanksgiving Day, and 140 million people will shop over the holiday weekend. That’s slightly less than the 147 million who planned to shop last year.

Some Butler County retail stores only saw about a dozen customers line up by mid-afternoon Thursday, a far cry from the hundreds who once braved early morning Black Friday openings in years past.

Miguel Duenas, 18, of Liberty Twp., said he was the first in line when he arrived at noon Thursday outside Best Buy at Bridgewater Falls to score computer tablets marked down from $400 to about $200.

Waiting in the cold until the store’s 6 p.m. opening is worth it, he said, but he wouldn’t have done so had the only option been a Black Friday opening.

“It’s too early for that,” he said, standing beside his brother and cousin, who were bundled up underneath several blankets. “It’s too cold in the morning.”

Candice Taylor of Hamilton said she loves Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping because of the sales, the fast pace and being around the crowds.

“I’m not a people person but I get in, I get what I want and I get out,” she said. “(Moving sales earlier) doesn’t bother me because if you want to celebrate Thanksgiving, you don’t have to do it on Thanksgiving. You can do it the day after. It’s not about the concept of the holiday, it’s about your being with your family, so it shouldn’t matter when you do it.”

Not everyone waiting in line thought of the Thanksgiving Day store openings as positive.

Originally from the United Kingdom, 52-year-old Craig Jones of Fairfield arrived at Best Buy in Fairfield Twp. at 1 p.m. Thursday to save $200 on a TV but didn’t start waiting in line until an hour later.

Stores requiring employees to come in to work on Thanksgiving Day amounted to “destroying the family tradition,” he said.

“I mean, stores are opening up on Christmas Day now … Why? Have we become that consumer-orientated that we need to do that?” he said.

Missy Ruscin, 26, of Middletown, said she weathered the elements to purchase a 55-inch TV that Best Buy discounted from about $900 to $500.

Ruscin, who had shopped several previous times on Black Friday, viewed Thanksgiving Day store openings with mixed emotions.

“I don’t like it, but it made it easier for me because there’s not as long of a line,” she said. “I stopped doing (Black Friday) because everyone started killing each other. They run you over and everything. At least here they give the tickets out (in advance). You either get it or you don’t get it.”

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©2013 the Journal-News (Hamilton, Ohio)

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