Couples, friends and families spent Friday afternoon strolling down Catalina Avenue, browsing through sidewalk racks of merchandise from boutique vendors.
Store owners said business on the day after Thanksgiving was brisk. Many used social media and email blasts to spread word of discounted merchandise and holiday sales.
"So far, it has been great," said Teresa Loberg, owner of Nu Shuz, a woman's shoe and clothing store on Avenida Del Norte.
To commemorate the start of the holiday shopping season, the store celebrated "Pink Friday.
"We're having fun here," Loberg said, adding this year's holiday season seemed to be off to a better start than in years past. "I've noticed locals have really started focusing on supporting their local businesses."
Farther up the street, jazz music and sidewalk racks of blouses under a bright orange awning beckoned shoppers inside Safari, a hat and clothing store.
The store, owned by Redondo Beach residents Amy and Matt Wilkens, opened a year ago, and anniversary sales coincided with holiday deals. Popular items included Redondo Beach T-shirts and sweatshirts, women's blouses and faux fur jackets.
"Things are moving," said employee Jackie Shaffer. "You can tell people are out shopping for gifts. It's been good."
At the Village Runner, a sign advertising a three-day weekend sale lured in holiday shoppers. In some cases, the store was selling running shoes for below cost.
"If it has been consistent like it has in weeks past, it'll be a good weekend for us," said General Manager Jeff Blair.
It'll probably be a good weekend for retailers across the country.
Despite an outcry from some employees that stores were opening earlier and earlier every year, both stores and shoppers seemed to enjoy the trend of opening their doors on Thursday. Some people went shopping with a full belly, going straight from the dinner table to the stores. Others slept off their big meal and went to the mall before daybreak on Black Friday.
"It's Black Thursday and Friday combined," said Jackie Fernandez, a retail expert at the consulting firm Deloitte. "This is going to be a new normal of how we shop."
It won't be clear for a few days how many shoppers took advantage of the Thanksgiving hours. But about 17 percent of people said earlier this month that they planned to shop at stores that opened on Thanksgiving, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers.
Meanwhile, 33 percent intended to shop on Black Friday, down 1 percentage point from last year. Overall, it is estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8 percent to $11.4 billion this year, according to technology company ShopperTrak, which did not forecast sales from Thanksgiving Day.
The Black Friday creep began in earnest a few years ago when stores realized that sales alone weren't enough to lure shoppers anymore, especially with Americans becoming more comfortable buying things online. Opening on Thanksgiving was risky, with some employees and shoppers complaining it was almost sacrilegious.
But many stores evidently felt they needed an edge, especially this season, when many Americans are worried about high unemployment and wondering whether Congress will be able to head off tax increases and spending cuts before the U.S. reaches the "fiscal cliff" in January.
Overall, the National Retail Federation estimates that sales in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, below last year's 5.6 percent.
"Every retailer wants to beat everyone else," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, a firm based in Charleston, S.C. "Shoppers love it."
It's not clear whether the longer hours will turn into extra dollars for retailers, or whether sales will simply be spread out over two days.
The Thanksgiving openings appeared to create two waves of shoppers - the late-nights and the early birds.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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