Black Friday bonanza on the North Shore Local …

PEABODY Toys R Us opened at 12:30 a.m. Friday, but Karen Roan and her daughter, Kelly Garcia, both of Peabody, arrived at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

That was early enough to secure first place in the shopping line on Black Friday. This is what we do every year, said Roan, bundled up in a heavy parka, blanket and thick gloves, who was hoping to score Hot Wheels toys and a Lalaloopsy doll house play set for Santa to set under the tree. They think we are just out shopping, she said, laughing, about her grandchildren.

They are too young to know that we are like fools sitting in the cold out here waiting for toys. They weren t the only ones waiting. The man behind her, Bob Masters of Peabody, said he d actually arrived at 5 p.m., but security shooed him away because he was too early.

With temperatures hovering around 27 degrees, lines built late at the Northshore Mall and the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers as shoppers waited for the stores to open. Some individual stores bucked the trend; Kohl s in Danvers opened at 1 a.m., and the Wal-Mart on Highland Avenue in Salem had only a small line at 2 a.m., with the store planning to open at 5. The Retailers Association of Massachusetts predicts holiday sales will increase 3.5 percent over last year, based on a survey of its 3,500 members.

Jon Hurst of Beverly, who is president of the association, said in a statement that retailers are greeting the season with cautious optimism. Because Thanksgiving fell late in November this year, there are six fewer shopping days and only four not five weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Retailers will be fighting hard for consumer traffic with promotions and discounts from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, Hurst said.

The promotions did bring people out to the malls yesterday. Around midnight, hundreds stood in line at Best Buy at the Liberty Tree Mall. Two Danvers police cruisers were on hand to keep the peace.

There were lines out there, but as far as we know it was orderly, said Danvers police Sgt. Olivia Silva. There were no arrests as a result of people doing their early Christmas shopping.

Yesterday around 10:20 a.m., Danvers police went to the Wal-Mart in Danvers on a report of about 15 protesters in front of the store; they agreed to move to the curbside to continue their protest, police said. Jessica Fultz of Beverly said she and her brother were about 30th in line at Best Buy after standing in the cold since 7 p.m. It was well worth it, she said, because they got a doorbuster ticket to buy a 55-inch LG TV for $499.

At the Liberty Tree Mall, many of the shoppers who flooded the mall when it opened at 12:30 a.m. appeared to be part of a young, late high school or college-age crowd. It looks like we have more people here than last year, said Lauren Dalis, director of marketing at the Northshore and Liberty Tree malls.

The initial rush was definitely pretty heavy. … It s pretty hard to gauge how many, but I would say there is definitely more traffic than last year. People are in high spirits, high energy; it s positive.

This was the second year in a row the mall opened at 12:30 a.m. on Black Friday. This is pleasant.

Everyone seems nicer, said Peabody Patrolman Gerald Fitzgerald, who said this year there was no confusion about how the line formed at Toys R Us. I think it s because everyone is so cold, no one wants to be mean, said Fitzgerald who laughed and joked with some in the line. This year, nice.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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