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Black Friday Off to Early Start in Buffalo Area

By Howard Riedel

Buffalo, NY – Black Friday was off to a fast start and an early start in the Buffalo-Niagara regon.

The day after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the holiday season, which retailers and economists fear could be the weakest in decades. Many retailers are extending their hours and are offering deals promising to be even deeper and wider than even the deep discounts shoppers found throughout the month.

Stores opened at midnight at Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls and 4 AM at Boulevard Mall and Walden Galleria.

Judging by bridge traffic and reported hotel bookings, Canadian shoppers are showing up in force this year as well, despite the decline in value of the Canadian dollar over last year.

Canadian tourism officials say interest in bus excursions to U.S. shopping hot spots such as the Walden Galleria remains high.

"It's not quite as high as last year, but we're still selling out the buses," said Marilyne McCarthy, a tour guide with Oshawa, Ontario-based Fun Bus.

The Buffalo Niagara Convention & Visitors Bureau continues to heavily market to Canadians, including a "Shopping is Hopping" package aimed at women, spokesman Doug Sitler said.