LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Before the turkey was even on the table, some people were already lining up at East Texas stores to take advantage of Black Friday shopping deals.
This year, many are noticing the same trend of surprisingly thin crowds. One avid Black Friday shopper, Latonya Jones, said that out all the years she has spent chasing deals with her mother on Thanksgiving, this year, she saw the smallest crowds so far.
"It was a lot calmer yes. We were out last night at Walmart, and we thought it was going to be crazy but it wasn't," Jones said. "We do this a lot, and we were able to get in and out quicker than we ever have."
They weren't the only ones who noticed how smooth things were during what historically is one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
"I parked right at the front. It was easy to get in, easy to find the television I was looking for," said first-time Black Friday shopper Aubrey Luce. "To be honest, it was just all easy. I have been to three other stores before this and didn't notice the crowd either."
Kim Applegate said it had been years since she tried to brave the Thanksgiving shopping deals, but was surprised to find how easy it was. For as many people camping out the night before, the lines were already down by Friday morning.
"The last time we came, they were so bad. You know, you stand in line forever just waiting, and now it's like you walk in, get what you need, and you check out, and you're gone," Applegate said.
Employees reported that Best Buy in Lufkin had people lining up to shop their deals as early as Wednesday morning, but the crowds didn't last. General Manager Mike Warner said he credits shoppers to understanding their ticket voucher process, and patience for making things so smooth.
"I don't have an exact number, but there were more people waiting in lines the day before we opened, but once they were in I think customers understand the process a little better and don't go frantically running through the store," Warner said.
As far as the procedure they have in place being anything different than other years, Best Buy said they didn't make any major changes.
"Every year we try to make it run a little better than last year, so we refined the process, but we really haven't changed much overall except the items we do sell," Warner said.
Online shopping continues to break records on Thanksgiving Day deals, and many feel this could be the reason for less crowds braving in-store shopping.
"I think more people are taking the convenient way out - not fighting the traffic, not fighting the crowds and shopping in the ease and comfort of their own home," said Gloria Jones, who began shopping early Friday morning with her daughter.
One person simply joining her family for their day of shopping said she was simply along for the ride. Her Black Friday shopping was finished online, and she feels this is what many chose to do this year.
"Two years ago, I spent my Thanksgiving standing in line watching people shouting and fighting over silly things. After that, I swore I would never do it again," said Almerie Henderson Shumate. "This year, I have been looking online, and I think a lot of people have been doing that to avoid the crazy crowds."
Many of the top online shopping outlets like Ebay, and Amazon have recorded a record breaking $771 million in online shopping alone.