Retailers have cast their lines for consumers' dollars earlier than ever this year, and Long Island's shoppers are biting.
Tiffany Cohen, 30, of Lindenhurst, and her sister will line up for Target's 9 p.m. opening Thursday, aiming to get a Canon camera reduced by about $300. Almost eight months' pregnant, she wants to have a good camera to photograph her baby.
Jennifer Murale, 38, of West Hempstead, has toys on the agenda for her first stop -- Toys R Us, which is opening at 8 p.m.
"This year, honestly it is a little bit annoying that the stores are opening on Thanksgiving because you don't want to leave," Cohen said, referring to her Thanksgiving gathering. "But if you have that big purchase, you have to be on line."
Although many in areas hit hard by superstorm Sandy are consumed with rebuilding and recovery, retail experts expect Long Islanders to make a strong showing at the various Black Friday sales events starting as early as 8 p.m. Thursday. Costs related to the storm likely have shrunk some holiday budgets, giving shoppers more reason to brave the crowds and try to stretch their dollars with bargains. The disruption of shopping after the storm also may have created some pent-up demand. And some of the early openings at night rather than in the wee hours of the next morning could entice more people to come out, they said.
"It takes five hours to prepare the meal, 25 minutes to eat the meal and 15 more minutes to get sick of the cousins at the table," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a Port Washington market research firm. "So what that does now is offer the opportunity to gather friends and family and go shop. Not everybody wants to watch 12 hours of football."
Nationwide, about 17 percent of consumers or 41 million people plan to shop Thanksgiving Day, but Black Friday is still the "most trafficked day of the weekend" with one-third of consumers or 80.5 million people planning to hit the stores, according to a survey by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.
For those who'd rather shop online, retailers will lure them with another round of deals on what they now call Cyber Monday.
Many Long Islanders busy with rebuilding and repairing after the storm might opt for online holiday shopping.
"I think you will see a large spike in online consumer business in the metropolitan, Nassau and Suffolk area just because of this hurricane," said Al Ferrara, the director of BDO USA Llp's retail and consumer product practice.
But many shoppers out Thursday night will be like Cohen and Murale, who truly enjoy the excitement of deal hunting.
"For those who don't want to do it, there's always Cyber Monday, but to me that's no fun," Cohen said. "I'd rather run for my product."
Murale concurred: "I love the craziness of it."