Lured by specialty coupons, in-store only deals, and big savings on electronics, thousands of Long Island shoppers took part Thursday in another time-honored tradition tied to the long Thanksgiving weekend — they went shopping.
From a Best Buy store in Bay Shore, where customers scoped out bargains on big-screen TVs, video games and other electronics, to a bustling Roosevelt Field in Garden City, shoppers spent a chilly but sunsplashed Thanksgiving getting an early jump on the holiday gift-buying season.
And according to a National Retail Federation survey, they were in good company.
The Washington D.C.-based trade organization estimated that about 164 million people nationwide will have made a dash to shopping malls, others retailers and online between Thursday and Cyber Monday.
An estimated 33 million of those shoppers were expected to be on the bargain hunt on Thanksgiving Day, according to the federation.
And though more stores closed — or opened for limited hours — on Thanksgiving Day this year, plenty of others offered round-the-clock deals, giveaways and special coupons.
Most big name retailers in Nassau and Suffolk, including many Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Best Buy stores opened Thursday at 5 p.m. Roosevelt Field opened at 6 p.m. Thursday and was scheduled to close at 1 a.m. Friday. Tanger Outlets in Deer Park and Riverhead, also opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and won’t close until 10 p.m. Friday.
The Best Buy in Bay Shore opened its doors at 5 p.m. and welcomed a flood of excited customers. Many had been waiting in line since 6 a.m.
One of those who braved the morning chill was Estarlin Abreu, 24, of Bay Shore.
Abreu said he’d been waiting in line for eight hours but didn’t mind. Shopping online, while usually done from the comfort of home, doesn’t have the same allure as going on the hunt for a bargain, he said. Plus, deals for certain items, like a 50-inch HD TV he had his eye on, were valid in-store only.
“It’s just not the same,” Abreu said. “When you shop online you have to wait for the product to ship and arrive. I hate waiting. And love saving money, so here I am.”
Abreu said he expected to save more than $300 on his purchases.
Srinivas Ganta, 35, of Ronkonkoma, said Thanksgiving Day shopping for electronics had become a family tradition.
He and his wife, Vasava, were at the Best Buy looking to buy an early Christmas present for their son, Hemanth, 7 — an Xbox.
“It’s $100 off today so it’s really worth it,” Srinivas Ganta said.
Others like Elaina Brzostek, 19, of East Islip, were shopping for their significant others.
“I hope my boyfriend doesn’t read the paper,” she said. “This TV is for him.”
About 24 miles west, store employees at Roosevelt Field said there was a noticeable uptick in the number of shoppers once the vast consumer emporium opened at 6 p.m. Thursday.
At the J.C. Penney, store manager Caryn Weeks attributed the rush of more than 2,000 customers to two initiatives: peel-and-reveal coupons, that allowed customers to save $10, $100 or $500 and handed out to each person waiting in line outside the store, and the addition of electronics like televisions and PlayStations to its inventory.
“Last year we had about 1,000 customers waiting in line,” she said. “This year it doubled. We’ve been very busy.”