NASHUA, N.H. – Allan Galdamez decided that, this year, the turkey could wait.
On Thursday evening, the Waltham resident was the first person in line at Sears at the Pheasant Lane Mall after arriving at the store at 8 a.m. His plan: grab a 50-inch television for $299 and head home for a belated Thanksgiving dinner.
“We’re just going to get in and get it and get out,” he said.
The doors opened at 7:50 p.m. Ten minutes later Galdamez emerged successful.
Galdamez was among close to 1,000 people was lined up outside Sears and Target in Nashua on Thursday, hoping to score the kinds of deals more typically offered up in the early hours of Friday morning.
Store openings on Black Friday, the traditional kick-off of the holiday shopping season, have crept earlier and earlier for the past several years. This year, a number of major retailers pushed up their start times even further, opening their doors to shoppers who were still digesting their pumpkin pie.
Shoppers, for their part, are eager to take advantage of these new hours. Nationally, 17 percent of consumers — some 41 million people — planned to shop on Thursday, according to a survey by The International Council of Shopping Centers, a trade group, and investment bank Goldman Sachs. About one-third of consumers intend to shop on Black Friday, the survey found.
Massachusetts blue laws, however, prohibit most stores from opening on Thanksgiving, forcing eager shoppers to either wait until after to midnight or drive to a neighboring state to score the best deals. And many did; at least half of the cars parked at Pheasant Lane Mall on Thursday evening sported Massachusetts license plates.
Shoppers lining up in Nashua Thursday had mixed opinions on Thanksgiving store hours.
For Chelmsford resident Carol Mehigan, who was waiting for the doors to open at Sears, hitting the mall is no different than any other form of Thanksgiving night entertainment.
“The guys are at home watching football — we can shop,” said Mehigan, who was hoping to buy a discounted television for her oldest grandson.
Galdamez wished that a store closer to home — somewhere in Massachusetts — had been open and offering the same deals.
Others waiting in line, however, expressed support for Massachusetts’ ban on Thanksgiving hours.
Rebecca Delarossa, of Lowell, regularly attends Black Friday sales but was less enthused about waiting in line at Target on Thursday in order to get the best deals. Her mother and one of her sisters, also regular Friday shoppers, refused to go shopping on Thanksgiving, she said.
“It’s not the same,” said Patti Reekie of Tyngsborough, who barely finished her Thanksgiving dinner before heading out to stand in line at Target. “You’re supposed to be in front of the TV eating leftovers right now.”