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Black Friday Bargain Hunters Out Early

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Dwight flew in from Jamaica to go Black Friday shopping at Sawgrass Mills.  (Source: CBS4)

Dwight flew in from Jamaica to go Black Friday shopping at Sawgrass Mills. (Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – Bargain hunters lined up early in front of their favorite stores or mall so they could be the first inside to score Black Friday bargains.

Breaking with the past, some stores opened their doors at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night.

At Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise, the parking lot was full. Inside the massive mall, shoppers spent the night bargain hunting. Friday morning Dwight, who flew in from Jamaica on Thursday just to shopping on Black Friday, said he was tired.

“I’m very, very tired. Traveling all day and shopping all night and all morning too,” said Dwight.

As for the bargains.

“They’re great, they’re great. You have to look around, do a bit of searching but yeah you do find some pretty good deals out there,” said Dwight.

From clothes to electronics, Dwight packed a red suitcase full of goodies to take back with him.  Dwight wasn’t the only shopper to bring along a suitcase on wheels to haul around their purchases.

A visitor from Brazil told CBS4’s Silva Harapetian that he spent $16,000 on clothing.

While shoppers in North Miami Beach kept their eyes out for bargains, police kept an eye on them.

Every weekend, police say they’ll set up a mobile command center near shopping areas, and daily they’ll fill shopping center parking lots with marked and unmarked police cars and pass out fliers with shopping safety tips.

Sgt.  Jonas Eddington of North Miami Beach Police said, “The whole goal is to either prevent crime from happening or if it is happening to catch it in progress and apprehend as many people as we can.”

The initiative started Monday and Eddington says police have already made 20 arrests.  Roselynn Elliott, a shopper at Toys-R-Us said, “It is good advice because it’s the holiday now and people become easy victims.”

The special price deals weren’t the only thing which brought people out.

“I don’t necessarily come for the bargains.  We just get caught up with the thrill and whatever we find, we find,” said one woman.

The National Retail Federation estimates that overall sales at “brick and mortar” stores in November and December will rise 4.1 percent this year to $586.1 billion, or about flat with last year’s growth. Online sales are expected to rise 15 percent to $68.4 billion, according to Forrester Research.

In addition to expanding their hours into Thanksgiving, many stores this year are offering free layaways and shipping, matching the cheaper prices of online and store rivals and updating their mobile shopping apps with more information.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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