By  on November 26, 2007

Judging from the crowds in line to snap up the latest gear, it's once again going to be an electronics holiday.

The interest in electronics was apparent at chains such as Circuit City and Best Buy throughout the first official shopping weekend of the holiday season. In a scene repeated throughout the country, about 1,000 people waited on line for Best Buy's Lexington Avenue and 86th Street flagship to open at 5 a.m. on Friday. Some had arrived at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day hoping to buy Compaq laptops and Samsung HDTVs at drastically reduced prices.

"There was a lot of anticipation," said Andre Sam, a Best Buy spokesman. "There was a party atmosphere until the store opened. A lot of people waiting for computers, flat-panel TVs, digital cameras, GPS systems. Shoppers just wanted to load up their carts."

Unlike Black Friday 2006, when items were reduced for six hours only, Best Buy this year kept the sale in place for the entire day on Friday and extended sale prices on some items through Saturday, although many of the advertised doorbusters sold out within minutes Friday. "We had steady traffic through the entire [Black Friday] period," Sam said. "It's literally a playground for electronics out there. There are so many rides you can get on. There's a plethora of things to choose from. Just looking at inventory levels leads me to believe we're going to have a very great holiday."

Consumers began lining up at Circuit City stores on Thursday, with consumers in the Richmond, Va., area arriving between 5:45 a.m. and noon on Thanksgiving Day. Stores opened at 5 a.m. and were "very busy," said a spokesman.

"People were interested in notebook computers, there was a lot of interest in flat-panel televisions, camcorders, GPS systems and movie and music titles," the spokesman said. "We had a fair amount of depth in the product selection. In some cases we had a limited supply, so at 4 a.m., an hour before our stores opened, associates went outside and talked to folks on line and gave vouchers for certain products."

In an effort to ease confusion, crowding and chaos, Circuit City decided to let customers enter stores in groups, rather than throwing the doors open for hundreds of people. "We discovered we could help more people better," the spokesman said. "We're trying to improve the customer experience."

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