MURRAY — As nearly 430 shoppers shuffled into Toys R Us early Thursday evening, store manager James Cook stood at the entrance with a smile.
"It's a much better turnout this year than last year," Cook said, carefully counting the number of families in line to enter the store. "It should be a good night."
The past few Black Friday holidays have been relatively calm, he continued, unlike his first at the store, when the store reached maximum capacity at more than 1,000 people.
But Black Friday has changed, Cook said.
Nearly 69 percent of Americans planned to shop over Thanksgiving weekend, according to an annual survey from the National Retail Federation. That total includes shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But for the first time, most consumers planned to shop online this holiday season rather than traveling to stores, as reported by the National Retail Federation.
Many stores, including Kohl's and Old Navy, posted Black Friday deals online earlier in the week.
Early shopping in-person is still popular though, as 57 percent of consumers plan to travel to department stores and 54 percent plan to visit discount stores.
Toys R Us and many other department stores — including Target, Best Buy, J.C. Penney and Walmart — opened late afternoon on Thanksgiving Day.
Other stores such as Costco, Lowe's and Cabela's stayed closed on the holiday and planned to open early on Black Friday.
"I’ve been coming to Toys R Us every year on this day," said Millcreek resident Roxane Hardison.
She and her nephew waited in line about a half-hour before Toys R Us opened its doors at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Hardison had almost finished Christmas shopping for her five nieces and nephews, she added, naming several specific toys she planned to buy that night.
"I enjoy spoiling them," she added, "and I don't have to pick up the mess."
Shoppers are spending more on gifts than ever before, the National Retail Federation reported. The average consumer will spend on average $967 this year on holiday shopping, more than a 3 percent increase from last year.
The majority of holiday spending is spent on gifts ($608), though consumers also spent an average of $218 on food, decorations and greeting cards, according to the National Retail Federation.
Silvia Nguyen and her husband, Duy, went shopping Thanksgiving night for one reason: to save money. They planned to only visit Toys R Us with two of their five kids.1 comment on this story
"I'm just a tag-a-long," Duy Nguyen said with a laugh, adding that his wife is the one who hops on the deals.
Priyanka Jadhav, of Taylorsville, said she and her husband went to different stores Thursday night to split up the shopping.
Jadhav also arrived early at Toys R Us, scanning the store's coupon booklet while she waited in line. Her husband took charge of their 3-year-old daughter so she could shop for toys.
"If we want to buy something special," she said, "it's a really good deal every time."