But very few showed up. The emptiness was almost eerie, with no lines of exhausted bargain hunters who’d waited through the night or crowds of shoving shoppers.
Instead, the streets were populated mostly by employees heading to stores and passerby dropping into Starbucks or Coffee Bean for a pick-me-up.
Old Navy employee Hadie Cuyan, 25, said she had expected more people. Most so far have been exercise enthusiasts browsing the store for fun, she said. Just one family had waited outside for doors to open.
The store is set to close at 4 p.m. and then re-open at 7 p.m.
“I think more people will definitely come then,” she said.
But the big crowds come on Black Friday, according to Liliana Jarquin, an employee at Express, where every item is half off through Friday.
“People don’t come today because they think most stores are closed on Thanksgiving,” said Jarquin, 24. “Tomorrow is really big. The line fills, like, half the store.”
But by noon, the area livened up. Two dozen stores were open – including Forever 21, Aldo and American Apparel. Street performers entertained tourists enjoying the brisk weather. Shoppers strolled, though few carried more than a single bag.
Downtown Los Angeles resident Elizabeth Estrada, 34, carried an Old Navy bag with $42 worth of T-shirts and sweaters for her 9-year-old son, who clutched a blue balloon from the store.
But she was unimpressed with her haul.
“It’s not really a good offer because it was basically regular price at $15 a shirt,” she said.
Westwood resident Sara Tie, 25, concurred. The 5-year Black Friday veteran said she was looking for trendy fur vests and crop top sweaters at stores such as H&M and Zara but felt that the selections were lacking.
“It seems like items are leftovers from sales,” she said. “I was expecting better deals with lower prices to be honest.”