CHICAGO (CBS) — Forget Thanksgiving with the family. For many shoppers, Thursday night was all about finding big deals.

Hundreds of people walked into the Target in Lombard when it opened at 6 p.m. Thursday, looking for Thanksgiving discounts.

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One woman was shopping on Thanksgiving for the first time.

“My TV went out in July, and I’ve been waiting since July to buy a new TV. Why not Black Friday?” she said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to stand in the cold, and get me a TV.’”

A new TV wasn’t the only thing on her shopping list.

“Pajamas, a TV, beets, sheets, socks,” she said.

She wasn’t alone. Ten minutes after the store opened, people already were wheeling out carts filled with TVs, game consoles, tablet computers, and more.

Shoppers said the discounts were worth standing outside for hours in temperatures that reached as low as 11 degrees.

Macy’s also was among retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving, opening at 6 p.m. Thursday to get an early jump on Black Friday, and staying open until 10 p.m. Friday.

With doorbuster bargains waiting inside, anxious shoppers stood in the cold outside, eager to spend their money.

One woman estimated she’ll spend $3,000 on Christmas gifts this year.

Retailers were hoping plenty more shoppers were planning similar holiday bonanzas.

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In addition to deep discounts, Macy’s also opened its legendary Walnut Room restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever.

For many people, Black Friday has been a marathon of shopping. Some people started when the first stores opened at 6 p.m. Thursday, and were still going strong late Friday morning.

With at least a dozen major retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day, the early deals have changed the size of crowds – and the atmosphere – on Black Friday.

When The Sports Authority at Harlem Irving Plaza opened at 5 a.m. Friday, Christine Napolitano had already hit two malls, and 11 stores in all.

“This is the most exciting time of the year for me; just an adrenaline rush,” she said.

Sports Authority was one of several chains offering incentives to shop on Black Friday, giving out gift cards worth $10 to $500 to the first 80 shoppers in line.

Outside Best Buy, parade barriers were set up to control crowds waiting for an 8 a.m. opening, but the line was sparse. The electronics chain was among those enticing crowds to show up on Thanksgiving.

Manager Andrew Taylor said convincing shoppers to come in on Thanksgiving helps keep crowds more manageable on Black Friday.

It’s shifted the urgency and timing of the retail promotion. Last year it led to a 13 percent drop in black Friday sales.

While Black Friday might be smaller than before, it’s still an important day for retailers, who are expected to ring up $9.7 billion in sales on Friday alone.

Black Friday also isn’t necessarily the best day to find a deal, with more discounts coming in the days ahead, to keep shoppers coming out right up until Christmas.

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