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Shoppers brave cold for Black Friday bargains

CRYSTAL LAKE – Gail Pagor and her husband were up at 4:30 a.m. in preparation for Black Friday.

The McHenry couple made their first stop at Menards in Crystal Lake when the doors opened at 5 a.m. before heading off to the next store on their list.

It had a been a few years since the two had participated in the biggest shopping day of the year, but this year’s deals were too good to pass up.

“It’s always fun,” Gail Pagor said. “Other than forcing yourself to get up in the morning, you have to be prepared. The lines aren’t bad and we were able to get toys for the kids.”

The duo joined throngs of shoppers who braved the cold temperatures Friday morning with hopes of finding that special gift for someone or even themselves. The madness started even earlier this year, with hordes of bargain hunters cutting their Thanksgiving celebrations short Thursday to shop.

Historically, Black Friday began the day after Thanksgiving. As the years have gone by, opening times have slowly crept earlier and earlier. This year, some big-box retailers opened as early as 8 p.m. Thursday.

“The shoppers are mandating when they want to shop,” said Peter Gill, spokesman for the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. "The brick-and-mortar retailers are responding to what the customer wants.”

As many as 147 million shoppers are expected to hit the stores during the three-day weekend following Thanksgiving, a slight dip compared to the 152 million who shopped last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retailers are also expecting a 4.1 percent increase in spending compared to last year.

Check back to for updates.

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