Matthew Grizzle needed a laptop computer with the latest Windows 7 operating system for college.
So when he saw Wal-Mart in Dawsonville would have one on sale for $198 at 5 a.m. Friday, he planned to be first in line.
“I got here at 11:30 last night,” the Dawsonville man said while waiting with thousands of other shoppers to check out that morning. “And there were already 16 other people ahead of me.”
Retailers believe more than 195 million people nationwide braved the crowds in search of bargain holiday gifts on the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year.
Known as Black Friday, the shopping occasion has traditionally helped businesses move from red ink shortfalls to black ink profits.
Early estimates by the National Retail Federation indicate Americans spent more than $41 billion over the holiday weekend.
Judy Dockery of Dawsonville never went to bed Thursday night after spending Thanksgiving with her family.
“This is a tradition for us. We do this every year,” she said as she and her children, Jake and Tonya Brooks, waited in line for a $99 basketball goal at Wal-Mart.
“We start off at the outlet mall and then wrap the morning up at Wal-Mart,” she said.
For Dockery, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is as much about family as it is about bargains.
“There are some great deals that I buy for my kids and grandkids, and we just have so much fun,” she said.
Rubbing his eyes as he tried to stay awake, 14-year-old Jake Brooks, laughed as his mother said they had fun.
But he admitted the sales were worth the hassle, pointing to the Rock Band video game for $50 in his shopping cart.
The specials at North Georgia Premium Outlets draw Tom Griffin and his wife each year.
“The deals we find at the outlets are insanity,” said Griffin, who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Heather Halpert, assistant general manager of the outlet mall, said the crowds were steady throughout the weekend, with the largest arriving early Thursday for the midnight madness shopping event.
“Traffic was strong from Thanksgiving Day until Sunday evening, and the feedback from our stores and our shoppers has been very encouraging,” Halpert said.
“Our stores did a wonderful job providing great deals for our shoppers, and our shoppers came prepared. They knew where they wanted to go and what they wanted to buy.”