by: Erica Bryant Updated:
CONCORD, N.C. - Concord Mills will close its doors Friday night after being open for a 26-hour shopping extravaganza. It was the outlet mall's longest stretch ever for this time of year.
The mega mall opened its doors earlier than ever this year.
Mall management said the decision to open four hours before the official start of Black Friday was driven by customer demand.
The manager at Concord Mills said the earlier opening time was a win-win.
“It’s a family type of thing where at the end of the day after Thanksgiving meal they need something to do -- certainly shopping. A move we have it all here,” he said.
With fewer days this year to look for deals between turkey day and Christmas, those who were dedicated shoppers ate it up.
For Angela Barnes and her daughter it's a tradition.
“I really like the fact that they chose to open up on Thanksgiving,” Barnes said
Thousands showed up for the experience holding hands, carrying tons of bags and piling them in carts until they overflowed.
In the end they say it's worth it to stock up on tons of gifts to play Santa for the ones they love.
Protests and record-breaking sales on Black Friday
Black Friday shoppers at a Walmart store in Raleigh had to get past protesters Friday afternoon. Close to 50 Walmart employees showed up at the store, and others across the country to say the company doesn't offer enough full-time jobs and doesn't pay enough.
Walmart says its full-time and part-time employees make an average of $12 an hour and have benefits.
Elsewhere across the country, police had to break-up fights as shoppers pushed and shoved for the best deals.
Some retailers are reporting record-breaking sales. In the first four hours, Walmart recorded more than 10 million transactions.
Americans are projected to spend nearly $40 billion dollars this holiday weekend.
That's up 2 percent from last year.
On Saturday, the focus shifts to small businesses. The National Federation of Independent Business is behind Small Business Saturday.
It's encouraging people to buy from independent retailers and other small businesses instead of big box stores.
Store owners said they don't think the earlier opening times are going to have a negative impact on Black Friday. They think the tradition will continue.
Toys R Us in Pineville kicked open its doors at 5 p.m. Thursday to hundreds of shoppers who had been waiting patiently since 2 p.m. to get the best deals.
Shoppers told Eyewitness News you simply can't beat these deals. Almost everyone is looking for a PlayStation 4 and an Xbox One.
They were more than happy to brave the cold temperatures and the long lines to get everything on their wish list.
"We're getting him the Hot Wheels and the LeapPad2," customer Paige Wynne said.
"I'm here early just so I can get in and out and go to the next store," customer Leslie Longtin said.
Toys R Us opened its doors at 5 p.m. Thursday and will remain open throughout the day on Black Friday.