SF Macy's expecting Black Friday crowds 

Before the sun comes up on Friday, many Bay Area stores, including the Union Square Macy's, will open their doors to welcome hordes of anticipated shoppers for the official start of the holiday shopping season, known in the retail world as Black Friday.

Macy's department stores nationwide will be opening at 5 a.m. At the Union Square location in San Francisco, it's not uncommon to see shoppers waiting outside for the doors to open, said spokeswoman Laura Gardner Smith.

The store has extra staff in place to assist customers and keep lines moving, she said. Macy's began circulating its array of sales and
discounted prices in advance online and in a special circular.

The number of people braving the stores in the Friday, Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving is expected to be up from last year, according to a poll released today by the National Retail Federation. The industry group expects up to 134 million people to shop nationwide, compared with 128 million last year. According to the survey, about two-thirds of respondents planned to visit department, discount chain and big-box stores.

An estimated one in 10 shoppers will roll out of bed for sales between midnight and 3 a.m., according the survey. Another 29 percent will head out seeking early bird specials between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.

On the day after Thanksgiving, all Toys R Us stores will open at midnight, five hours earlier than last year's Black Friday. A manager at the store's Hayward location said that employees are expecting the store to be busy, but customers in Black Fridays past have been well-behaved and friendly.

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