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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Doorbuster deals, theme park ticket giveaways, and ice skating with Santa — these are just a few of the ways the American Dream Mall lured in Black Friday shoppers this year, hoping folks will spend big this holiday season.

And the promise of big deals and special incentives appeared to pay off. Shoppers lined up for hours ahead of the mall’s opening on Friday morning. Many said they hadn’t even slept since before Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

The National Retail Federation estimates 158 million people will shop this weekend. That’s 2 million more than last year, but still not back up to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

But that doesn’t mean people don’t plan to buy more. Shoppers are expected to spend a record $850 billion over the course of the holiday season this year.

And the trend of shopping earlier continues. The National Retail Federation said some people started as early as Halloween this year, partly due to concerns about supply chain and shipping issues.

One of those early shoppers, Chris Guzman, said he’s been on the hunt for new clothes.

“It’s shoes. If I see clothes discounted, I’m going to throw that on … I’ll probably see Best Buy too, what else they’ve got; I guess a new phone. Whatever the deal is, I’m looking to buy,” he said.

Clothing is at the top of many shoppers’ lists this year, followed by gift cards and toys.

The hottest toys for kids are classics: Legos and Barbie.