Brisk winds, single-digit temperatures and slippery parking lots didn’t deter hordes of bargain shoppers early on Black Friday – one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

While some residents were out elbow-to-elbow before dawn to hunt down sales, others came out for tradition.

Rhonda Gordon, Windber, said she traditionally does a lot of her shopping the day after Thanksgiving.

Circuit City, at the Richland Town Centre in Richland Township, was her first stop of the day. More than 150 people stood in a line that wrapped around the electronics retailer.

Many customers stood in line for more than an hour to scratch off a few items from their gift lists.

A small neon green sign on the front door told customers that the store was sold out of Xbox 360s, the hot gaming console, before the doors even opened Friday. The newest version of the computer-game system debuted earlier in the week.

Over at The Galleria, all of the large department stores were opening at 6 a.m., but only a few of the smaller stores did. Early on, the crowds were less than at the Richland Town Centre.

Husbands and boyfriends gathered in the food court guarding bags on the tables as the women rushed by for more deals.

Carol Martin and her daughter, Kim Fish, said they had been in and out of stores since 5 a.m.

Hitting JC Penney and Sears first, the tag team made their purchases and wended their way through the mall toward the stores that opened later. Taking a quick coffee break at 6:30 a.m., the women were almost done shopping for the day.

“The discounts are only a few hours, so you have to beat the crowd,” Martin said.

“It’s really the adrenaline rush,” said Fish.

Through years of Black Friday shopping, the women had mapped out their plan Thanksgiving evening.

After carving the turkey and doing dinner dishes, the women sorted through the newspaper advertisements while the men watched football. Circling important items and making a timeline creates a smoother shopping day, Fish said.

“I am a bargain hunter, so we just get what we need and we’re out,” she said.

As her children grow older, Fish is not purchasing as many gifts because they want money instead.

“This year, we kind of cut back,” she said.

Across the parking lot from Circuit City at the Wal-Mart Supercenter, Amy Rummel, 30, of Windber, said she and her mother come out on the hectic shopping day every year.

Rummel, standing in the midst of busy shoppers in the Richland Wal-Mart’s electronics department, said, “It’s family tradition and I love the craziness and the excitement, the pushing and the pulling.”

With a heaping cart and a list in her hand, she was soon disappointed to learn the store had sold out of one of the items she still needed to buy.

Tony Moore, store manager of the Wal-Mart, said a number of electronics items sold out within minutes.

The world’s largest retailer drew hundreds of people for popular goods such as $300 notebook computers, $99 MP3 players, $178 plasma TVs and $49 Gameboys, Moore said.

“I can’t compare apples to apples because we have so many different items from last year,” Moore said. “Foot trafficking sales were above last year.”

Outside of the electronics department, DVDs were less than $4 as were a collection of kitchen items.

The Wal-Mart Supercenter is the only major store in the Johnstown area that is open 24 hours. This means long lines of people were inside when the sales began, unlike other stores where consumers faced the elements.

“There’s a lot of good deals, but you have to wait in line to get out the door,” said Kellie Barbe.

With an armful of DVDs, Barbe said she waited in the heated car instead of waiting in line outside for the stores to open. “This is just the day for little odds-and-ends purchases,” she said.

As two women entered a store, they began taking off their coats and preparing their carts for action.

“Do you want to go together or do you want to split up?” asked one.

The other thought for a moment, looked at her friend and said, “Let’s split up. We can get more that way,” before they dashed down an empty aisle.

More than 100 people were standing in line at the Toys ‘R’ Us across from The Galleria nearly 40 minutes after the store opened at 6 a.m.

Kristy Chunta of South Fork said the toy store was her first stop.

With a handful of presents, she was out the door planning to meet her sister for a long day of shopping. “I have gone with her every year to shop for my family,” Chunta said.

Hot items at the toy store this year were the new Bratz dolls and Gameboys, said a store employee. Though the Bratz dolls that sold for less than $10 were popular, they did not give the Tickle Me Elmo dolls of years past a run for their money.

Hasbro Inc.’s Idog, Fisher-Price’s Dora the Explorer’s Talking Kitchen and Zizzle Inc.’s iZ, also are popular, said John Barbour, president of the U.S. division of Toys ‘R’ Us. He reported “brisk” business.

Marshal Cohen, senior industry analyst at NPD Group Inc., a market research firm, told The Associated Press that apparel also sold well, helped by the arrival of frigid weather in many parts of the country.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average consumer is expected to spend nearly $740 on gifts this year.

The organization has increased its retail sales projection for the holiday season to a 6 percent gain from last year. The federation earlier had predicted sales would be up 5 percent.

As shoppers filtered back home, the sales tally began.

Several major retailers, including Wal-Mart, Sears and Macy’s, as well as mall operator Taubman Centers Inc., estimated they drew bigger crowds on the official start of the holiday season than a year ago.

“This is the most promotional Black Friday we have seen,” Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the Washington-based NRF, was quoted by The AP.

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