Black Friday Shopping Crowds Thin after Thanksgiving Rush

About 200 people demonstrate at a plaza near the historic water tower, located along Chicago's Michigan Avenue, on Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in Chicago. The protestors called on people to boycott shopping on Black Friday as a show of solidarity with protesters in Ferguson Missouri. At one point the demonstrator lay down on the cold ground in a silent protest. (AP Photo/Sara Burnett)
Protesters of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting chant slogans at the St. Louis Galleria mall on Wednesday evening, Nov. 26, 2014, in Richmond Heights, Mo. They stayed in the mall for about 15 minutes and then left peacefully without confrontation with a large police presence. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J.B. Forbres)
Protesters of the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting chant slogans at the St. Louis Galleria mall on Wednesday evening, Nov. 26, 2014, in Richmond Heights, Mo. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, J.B. Forbres)

(Reuters)—Mall crowds were relatively thin early on Black Friday in a sign of what has become the new normal in U.S. holiday shopping: the mad rush is happening the night of Thanksgiving and more consumers are picking up deals online.

Most major retailers now open their doors Thursday evening and offer extended holiday deals rather than limiting them to one day. The result is a quieter experience on what has traditionally been the busiest, and sometimes most chaotic, shopping day of the year.

“It just looks like any other weekend,” said Angela Olivera, a 32-year old housewife shopping for children’s clothing at the Westfarms Mall near Hartford, Connecticut. “The kind of crowds we usually see are missing and this is one of the biggest malls here. I think people are just not spending a lot.”

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