With less than a week until Black Friday, merchants and shoppers say they're ready. At San Francisco's waterfront, crowds gathered Friday night to watch the annual tradition where thousands of lights lit up the Embarcadero Center.
"It just brings out the spirit. It just looks nice. It's a beautiful thing to see especially with all the people out here," said Michelle Day of Greenbrae who brought her 3-year-old son to the event.
The lighting ceremony is a symbol of the holiday season that merchants hope will inspire people to go out and shop.
In Hayes Valley, Minimal, a gift store is banking on its unique Scandinavian homeware to draw customers from large retailers.
The merchant says holiday shopping season accounts for 30 percent of sales for the year.
"We're going to be running some deals on certain items between 10 and 40 percent so Black Friday is going to be a busy day for us," said Glenn Marshall with Minimal.
The National Retail Federation predicts that sales will be up 3.7 percent over last year's holiday period
But one expert says that may be overly optimistic because consumers are wary.
"They've seen big increases in things like healthcare , taxes and so forth. They also
weathered a tough storm in the recession," said Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist with Golden Gate University.
WalletHub, a personal finance website, advises consumers that Black Friday is a good day to purchase some items, but not others.
Consumers will find substantial savings for books, movies, music, toys and consumer electronics.
But the discounts are much smaller for clothing, furniture and jewelry.
"I think there are a lot of deals are already starting to happen at stores before the Black Friday rush and many deals continue afterwards and cyber Monday," said Tessa Kaneene of San Francisco. She says she won't be shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday.
At F. Dorian, a contemporary craft store in Hayes Valley, there won't be Black Friday specials,
But the manager says seasonal items such as ornaments should sell very well.
"We have a lot of repeat customers and they're always coming back to see what's the new ornament or the new jewelry," said Mitch Durkee, manager of F. Dorian
Merchants tell KTVU they hope a strong economy and consumer confidence will be a boom for business.
Some say business has started picking up right after Halloween.