Photo Gallery: Black Friday at Ontario Mills
ONTARIO - The thrill is gone.
The allure of door-buster sales on Black Friday has given way to a new retail trend: "Grey Thursday."
This year, most large retailers started early on Thursday night including Ontario Mills Mall, which opened two hours before its traditional midnight opening. Like many other retailers, the extended hours marked the earliest the mills had ever opened for Black Friday.
As shoppers waited in line for the deals, some admitted the increasingly earlier openings were taking away from Thanksgiving.
Lisa Mason of Fontana says she feels bad for the employees who have to come in earlier and don't get to enjoy their turkey feast.
"It keeps getting earlier," Mason says. "It's not even Black Friday anymore, it should be "Grey Thursday'."
Some shoppers arrived at the mall as early as 6 p.m. in order to to get a good spot in line, including the Mason and her daughter.
The holiday season's shopping kickoff traditionally begins the Friday after Thanksgiving - called Black Friday because it's when stores go in the black, or start making an annual profit. This year, Wal-Mart began selling some deeply discounted items at 8 p.
"A lot of it is shopper demand and retailer demand. Shoppers want to their deals earlier," said Masa Liles, spokeswoman for the Mills.
An indication of that could be seen Thursday night where lines for the entrances were said to be at least half a mile long. Almost all the stores at the mall also opened at 10 p.m., only a handful were opening later in the morning.
More than a decade ago, major retailers used to open their doors around 6 a.m. on Black Friday , but over the past five years they started to move that up to as early as 3 a.m.
But Lawrence Martinez of Ontario, who was partaking in his first Black Friday, said he favors the earlier times.
"I'd rather do it at 10 than at midnight because I'd be sleeping at the time," he said.
Officials at Ontario Mills Mall took a new approach on the safety measures for Black Friday. This year, customers were only allowed to enter through one of the six main entrances at the mall.
In 2010, overwhelming crowds seeking bargains at Mills forced officials to momentarily shut down all entrances at the height of pre-dawn shopping hours. The move was an effort to help alleviate the influx of shoppers.
Despite the best efforts by mall management, Martinez said there will continue to be issues. He said people were still pushing and shoving by the entrance near the food court.
"This is my first time and it's crazy," he said. "It's too much pushing and shoving and I won't do (this) again."
Liles said she expected the mall to be at capacity. As crowds continued to grow, several stores closed their theirs doors, only letting in a certain amount of customers at a time.