Anna Szuba of Pasadena shopped on Thanksgiving last year -- two hours in line to get in the store and three hours in line to get out.

No thanks, she said. This year she started around midnight Friday and worked through her gift list among much smaller crowds.

Black Friday is drawing shoppers this year as always, but it's a far more sedate scene locally and nationally with the continuing rise of Thanksgiving sales.

Szuba appreciates it. She went to three stores after finishing a late shift at work, and by 5:30 a.m. at Toys R Us in Glen Burnie, she was about done.

"Pretty smooth, compared to last year," said Szuba, 32, a nurse.

Dante McGill, 18, waited until Friday to shop, too. He'd rather enjoy Thanksgiving than hit the stores. Shortly after 5 a.m., he was picking up gifts at Toys R Us in Glen Burnie with his sister and mother.

"This is actually not as wild as the other years," said the Woodlawn resident. "It's much calmer. The parking lots are much clearer."

Where holiday shopping once kicked off on Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving — each year the start times creep earlier and earlier as stores compete for shoppers' limited dollars.

Shoppers, in turn, never fail to show up for door-buster bargains and extreme sales, whether shopping for loved ones or for themselves. This year, Kmart was open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, while many other stores opened in the evening, including Toys 'R' Us, Best Buy, Kohl's, Target, Walmart, JC Penney and Boscov's.

Tiffani Pringle of Randallstown took a break Friday morning at Arundel Mills in Hanover after more than 12 hours of shopping, sitting in one of the mall's massage chairs.

But she wasn't done yet. Twelve hours is nothing -- her Black Friday record is more than 24 straight.

"I am the ultimate Black Friday shopper," said Pringle, 41, a sales trainer.

Her finds included two 32-inch TVs for $98 apiece at Walmart Thursday night, one for her mother and one for her boyfriend. Not gifts -- they asked her to try to get the televisions because of her shopping expertise.

"They know I'll fight the crowds," she said.

For some shoppers, Black Friday is still the ultimate shopping day, regardless of this year's Thanksgiving night sales.

Michele Schmitt drove from Frederick to Columbia to meet her sister at 6 a.m. as she does every Black Friday.

At The Disney Store in the Mall in Columbia, she was relieved to get her hands on the last Spiderman Cycle toy, but frustrated because she really wanted two.

"I couldn't wait to get here," she said. "They sell out of stuff."

Also in Columbia, Gail Owens, her daughter, her niece and her friend had started at 11 p.m. Thursday at Walmart, and they weren't finished yet.

Owens was doing her own holiday shopping while also acting as personal shopper for her sister, who had sent her out with $500.