SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) -- Shoppers filled up Chicago-area malls and shopping centers as Black Friday got underway.
"I got me a nice little outfit for a party I'm going to," said shopper Keisha Washington-Norwood.
Despite a dismal sales forecast, retailers hoped for a boost in a sales.
"It's pretty packed," said shopper Joshua Doumani. "It's a little chaotic, but I feel great."
Woodfield Mall attracted the largest crowds in the area. Doors opened there at 6 a.m. and many people hoped to get many things from their shopping list.
It is the Chicago area's largest shopping center, so there is a lot to see and do inside.
"This is like, prime, prime shopping time. There's people here, but there's not the types of crowds we sometimes expect on Black Friday," said shopper Katy Higgins.
At the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, shoppers swiftly moved in packs, on the prowl for the perfect holiday gift.
"Black Friday's really become an experience for a lot of our shoppers. It's a tradition they do with their families, their girlfriends. They make a whole day of it. They can come touch the product and physically take it home with them that day," said Katie Walsh with the Fashion Outlets of Chicago.
According to the National Retail Federation, more than 130 million people, or 72% of potential holiday shoppers, plan to hit the stores for Black Friday deals. That's up from 69% in 2022.
The National Retail Federation also expects that shoppers will spend more this year than last year. They forecast holiday sales will rise from 3% to 4% compared to last year.
Hot ticket items include toys, electronics and clothing. All will be discounted 20% or more.
"Today it's really, really crowded because everybody is looking for the sales," said shopper LaShawn Shelton-McField.
The second most popular shopping day is Cyber Monday, with 71 million expected to buy gifts online.
Retail expert Matt Garfield did some Black Friday shopping himself this year, and said with high inflation and other expenses mounting, shoppers are scouting out gifts that will help them save.
"People are spending this year. We're still expecting to see good growth in holiday sales numbers," Garfield said. "Consumers are really looking for the value. They are looking for that bang for their buck if you get the high promotions. Now, consumers are really getting out there. They're trying to fill up their holiday baskets and get their shopping done."
As the holiday season gets into full swing, the shopping floodgates have officially opened.