Shoppers scope out deals early for Black Friday

The Thanksgiving turkey hasn't even been carved but people all over the country, and right here in Tampa Bay have been camping out for days in anticipation of Black Friday. And, experts predict this holiday season, Florida shoppers will be spending in record amounts.

"I'm thinking about getting a 4K TV and clothes for my kids and stuff like that," said Alvaro Restrepo Wednesday afternoon at Best Buy. "We're scoping things today and then, tomorrow, I think whenever everything starts around 5:00, that's when we are going to start going through our list."

Without a doubt, the biggest Black Friday deals will go to the tenants of the tents lining the sidewalk outside Best Buy, who have claimed spots since early in the week. There's plenty at stake for a few nights spent sleeping on the sidewalk.

Best Buy is advertising a 43-inch 4K Toshiba Amazon Fire TV for $130. Meanwhile, Target's boasting a 55-inch Element smart TV for $200 and 6-quart Instant Pot for $69.95 that comes with a $10 in-store gift card. Over at Walmart, there's a sixth generation iPad for $250.

"I just want to find a Nintendo Switch for my son," said Maria Gaona as she leafed through the Black Friday ads. "Almost every year, I go to Black Friday."

Sure, the internet makes shopping as simple as a few clicks. But, Black Friday veterans know there's nothing like the real thing. 

"What makes Black Friday Black Friday: it's the only time of year when retailers will offer a great price and say only 12 per store or only 20 per store," said retail expert Britt Beemer.

And, there's money to go around. The Florida Retail Federation expects holiday sales to jump 4.5 percent due to the lowest unemployment rate in a decade, strong consumer confidence and record-breaking tourism. Consumers are expected to spend a record $1,000 on gifts and holiday-related items.

"Of course, we're looking for the best deals for the family. Everything is about spending money but saving money," Restrepo said.

And now, thanks to Black Friday sales starting even earlier in the week, families can have their deals and eat turkey, too. 

"We will be with family on Friday," said Grace Fasulo.

Her father, Brian Fasulo added, "Instead of running over people at the mall and getting in deep trouble. We will already have our Black Friday shopping done because we went today."

Thursday, Best Buy and Target open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Target reopens at 7 a.m. Friday. Best buy reopens at 8 a.m. And, Walmart's deals begin Thursday at 6 p.m.