Stores usher in holiday shopping season with big discounts, expanded hours in tough economy

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

The holiday shopping rush is on, and for at least one Manhattan department store, shoppers were so eager the store opened a half hour early.

Macy's at New York's Herald Square was to have opened at 6 a.m., but the store's managers say the crowd was so large they began letting people in at 5:30. Macy's managers also say they're seeing a lot of foreign shoppers, with the weak dollar making holiday bargains look all the better.

Analysts are expecting this could be the weakest showing for retailers in five years. A string of toy recalls along with higher prices for food and gas have kept shoppers away in recent months. But, stores across the country have been offering big discounts to spur sales.

One shopper at a Best Buy store in midtown Manhattan says he and his friends spent Thanksgiving Day waiting outside to make sure they were the first in line when the store opened at 4 a.m. Tom Shea estimates he saved about $1,500, after spending $2,500 on an Xbox, two laptops, a vacuum and several other items.

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