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Associated Press, Published November 29 2013

ND holiday shoppers like 'stampede of horses'

FARGO — North Dakotans braved the cold on Friday and some even a day earlier on Thanksgiving Day for sales of up to 50 percent and other deals too good to pass up.

“We are going to buy an iPad, two laptops and two TVs,” Poonam Oatis said Thursday afternoon outside the Best Buy in Fargo, clutching an ad. “That's the major stuff we need.”

She was the 10th person in line, waiting for the doors to open to deals on electronics, movies and music.

Minot's Kmart and numerous other stores opened for shoppers on Thursday.

At the Kirkwood Mall in Bismarck, even smaller retailers chose an 8 p.m. holiday opening. At Target, with Christmas lights adorning their heads, sisters Courtney Schweyen, Lindsay Bossert and Haley Kranz joined the line waiting for the 8 p.m. opening as employees walked up and down the line handing out store maps and Clif Bars.

“We have been planning this for a while,” Schweyen said.

Analysts expect sales to be generated at the expense of profits on items, as retailers will likely have to do more discounting to get people into stores. More than two dozen stores, including Wal-Mart and Kohl's, already have lowered their profit outlooks for the year.

In Dickinson, Lenny Johnson calls the sound of shoppers similar to a “stampede of horses.”

The co-owner of Starboard, an apparel store in the Prairie Hills Mall, has been a part of three Black Friday doorbuster sales pushes. Each one has been more interesting than the last, he said, as the mall doors open and customers flood in — some of them running — toward stores looking for deals.

“It is absolutely the craziest thing you will ever see,” Johnson said. “You can literally hear the feet.”

Dickinson's population has practically doubled in the past five years and many who work in retail businesses said sales have improved during that span.

However, no sales days are more important than “Gray Thursday,” otherwise known as Thanksgiving, and the day that follows, affectionately referred to as “Black Friday.”