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Black Friday deals lure some early U.S. shoppers, many buy online

CHICAGO/GARDEN CITY, N.Y., Nov 24 (Reuters) - Relatively few early-morning shoppers turned out on Black Friday to mark the start of the U.S. holiday shopping season, as more people picked up deals online and the traditional rush was split by stores opening the night before.

The period between the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas can make or a break a retailer, accounting for as much as 40 percent of total revenue for the year. The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally when retailers offer "doorbuster" deals attracting frenzied bargain hunters.

There was little sign of frenzy early on Friday.

About 250 people line up patiently at a Target Corp store in Manhattan before it opened at 6 a.m. (1100 GMT).

Tricia Welch, 36, a customer service executive at a bank, stood in line for about an hour before getting into the store.

"There are definitely more discounts available through the year now than say four to five years ago ... we only buy electronics or appliances on Black Friday."

Miguel Flores, 43, an overnight security guard, visited the store after his shift ended.

"I mostly shop online but decided to drop in because I havent been to a store in a long time," Flores said. "I bought some video games for my nephew a few days ago. The deals were pretty good then, too. In fact I was just looking at some of them today and the deals are similar."

Enticing shoppers with deals this Black Friday is especially important for brick-and-mortar retailers given the continued switch to online shopping, which has forced chains such as Toys R Us, apparel retailers True Religion, The Limited, Rue 21 and off-price retailer Payless Shoe Source to file for bankruptcy this year.

Major retail companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc , Target Corp, Macy's Inc and J.C. Penney opened their stores on Thursday evening and most have been offering extended holiday deals online starting as early as October instead of limiting them to one day. Some started offering in-store deals earlier this week to whet shoppers' appetites.

U.S. shoppers had spent more than $1.52 billion online by Thanksgiving evening, a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase in online spending, by 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) on Thanksgiving, according to Adobe Analytics, which tracked 80 percent of online transactions at the top 100 U.S. retailers. (Reporting by Nandita Bose and Richa Naidu, additional reporting by Stephanie Brumsey and Jenna Zucker; Writing by Nick Zieminski; Editing by Bill Rigby)