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Black Friday draws the familiar lines

Retailers said some consumers researched products and prices online before heading to stores to make their purchases the day after Thanksgiving.Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

It was the familiar Black Friday drill: Eager shoppers began queueing in the dark of night, while those who couldn’t wait were able to nail specials that retailers had posted online on Thanksgiving Day.

But there were several notable events that made the unofficial start of the holiday season a little different this year.

In Chicago, hundreds of protesters upset at the shooting death of a black 17-year-old by a white police officer blocked shoppers from entering some of the city’s marquee stores. The demonstrators linked arms to form human chains in front of main entrances to stores, prompting employees to direct shoppers to exit from side doors. Entrances were blocked at Sak’s Fifth Avenue, the Disney Store, the Apple Store, Nike, Tiffany & Co., and Neiman Marcus.


Many shoppers seemed to take the disturbance in stride, and some even snapped photos of the crowd.

Demonstators blocked an entrance to a shopping mall as they protested last year's shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white policeman.REUTERS/Jim Young

Meanwhile in Colorado, where marijuana is now legal, several marijuana shops got into the holiday spirit with specials of their own for shoppers who braved subfreezing temperatures and snow showers.

At the Denver Kush Club, the first few customers got free joints, free rolling papers and a T-shirt with their purchase. Medical customers were offered ounces of marijuana for $99, a savings of about 50 percent. The shop blasted reggae music and welcomed the crowd with cheers. Similar deals were offered last year, the first year for retail recreational marijuana sales.

‘‘We get a lot of people in the first few hours, just like any store on Black Friday,’’ said co-owner Joaquin Ortega. He said marijuana gift-giving is becoming more common, though most were shopping for themselves Friday.

In Massachusetts, shopping malls reported long lines early in the day. At the CambridgeSide Galleria, shoppers began lining up on Thursday for the midnight opening, hoping to snag such deals as $2,000 off a 65-inch LG Ultra high-definition television at BestBuy, $200 off Apple MacBook computers, and $60 off a Panasonic Streaming Wi-Fi Built-In Blu-ray Player, said Melissa LaVita, senior marketing director of the mall.


Shoppers lined up early at the CambridgeSide Galleria on Friday in search of deep discounts. Keith Bedford/Globe Staff

The line outside the Target store at the South Shore Plaza in Braintree ahead of its midnight opening snaked around the adjoining building, said Binni Patel, the mall’s director of marketing.

The Boston Public Market was open for its first Black Friday. Market manager Tiffany Emig said shoppers were coming in, post-turkey, seeking healthy snacks or meals.

For the first time, analysts had predicted more than half of online traffic to retail sites would come from smartphones rather than desktops during the four-day Black Friday holiday shopping weekend.

On Friday, there was evidence that consumers were vacillating between shopping in stores and online.

Walmart Stores Inc.’s chief merchandising officer, Steve Bratspies, told the Associated Press that the chain saw more shoppers buying both on its website and in its stores than the same time a year ago. Target chief executive Brian Cornell said online sales on Thanksgiving were strong, outpacing the performance on the holiday a year ago. That made it Target’s biggest day online for sales yet, driven largely by the purchase of electronics.

And J.C. Penney’s CEO, Marvin Ellison, said the chain worked hard to make its app more user friendly, and as a result, its online sales.

‘‘We saw customers going back and forth, researching online and then go to the stores,’’ he said.


Material from Globe wire services was used in this report. Jessica Geller can be reached at