Shoppers braved cool weather and early morning hours to pick up doorbuster bargains during Black Friday.

Julie Robinson of Newton was at Wal-Mart at 3:30 a.m. Friday. She said Wal-Mart employees had many of the doorbuster sale items out in the aisles, but customers were told if they touched them prior to 5 a.m., they would be asked to leave the store. She said she was mainly after bargain toys and Christmas presents. Her husband, Nathan, joined her about 10 a.m. at the store. Nathan Robinson said he expected the family would spend about the same on Christmas this year as last year.

Tonya Rivard also was out hunting for bargains at Wal-Mart. She said sometimes she’s a part of the Black Friday shopping crowd, and other times not.

“This year it was important to me because of the economy,” Rivard said.

While she wasn’t up before the sun, she did pick up some of the doorbuster items; she said some were Christmas presents and some were just good buys.

She said she also had been doing a lot of online bargain shopping, starting some of her online shopping at midnight Friday. She said she had three more stops to go after Wal-Mart, all in Newton.

Rivard said she expects to spend less this Christmas season because of the economy.

“I’ll get more needed items instead of fun items,” she said.

Rebecca Kasper of Newton decided to try her luck at Alco Friday, mainly because of the store’s layaway program, which she said she planned to use because of the economy. She was picking up Christmas presents, mostly toys for her grandchildren and a friend’s children. She, too, avoided the early morning rush.

“There wasn’t anything I needed that I could afford,” Kasper said.

Karen Riley and Diane Goers, both of Wichita, trekked up to Newton Friday to visit some of their favorite Newton locations, including Flowers by Ruzen, Main Street Co., High Street Co., and The Breadbasket.

Riley and Goers both said the economic climate makes them more aware of what they’re spending at Christmas this year. Goers said she wasn’t sure she’ll spend less, but she pays more attention to prices, while Riley said she also finds herself doing more cost comparisons.

Nationally, the Associated Press reported several retailers, including Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, said crowds were at least as large as last year’s, but many still predicted a poor sales showing this holiday season.

In 2007, the Friday through Sunday Thanksgiving shopping weekend accounted for about 10 percent of overall holiday sales, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp.

ShopperTrack did not release estimates for this year.

The National Retail Federation estimated up to 128 million people will shop this weekend, with 49 million saying they would definitely hit stores and another 79 million saying they will wait to see on weekend deals. Last year, the NRF estimated up to 135 million shoppers.

The NRF also said on its Web site, www.nrf.com, that 83.7 percent of retailers will have a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from 72.2 percent last year. Cyber Monday is the name coined in 2005 for the Monday after Thanksgiving, a day when many people shop online for holiday merchandise and sales.

Gift card sales are expected to fall up to 6 percent this year to $24.9 billion.

“Since gift cards never go on sale, some price-conscious shoppers will be passing up gift cards in favor of holiday bargains,” said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin on the Web site.