11_23_07blackfriday.jpgActivists trying to turn Black Friday into Buy Nothing Day have their work cut out for them when it comes to consumers like Tom Shea, who waited in line outside a midtown Manhattan Best Buy for 35 hours so he could be the first one inside when the store opened at 4am today. “"If they were selling it, we were buying it," Shea proudly told the Post. His attitude was far from unique; shopoholics like Shea mobbed New York’s stores starting at dawn this morning in what has become a ritualistic day-after-Thanksgiving frenzy of temporary discounts and sales promotions. (25%-50% discounts store wide at Macy’s! A Zune music player marked down from $199.99 to $79.99 at Toys “R” Us!)

Anecdotal evidence indicates that this year’s consumption has been as feverish as ever, with lines around the block at FAO Schwartz and mobbed department stores. But because of worries about a looming recession, retailers were luring in shoppers with bigger discounts than usual. Nationwide, consumer spending is expected to increase, but at a substantially lower rate than last year. Retail consultant Robert Passikoff told The Daily News that “the drop will reflect lower consumer confidence, with ‘people drawing the wagons in a circle’ and waiting to see what happens to them financially.”

You wouldn’t know it from the mob scene on Fifth Avenue, though. Some bargain hunters even kicked off Black Friday yesterday, when the unseasonably warm weather encouraged shoppers to venture forth and throw some money around. So how confident has your consumption been today? Are you Buying Nothing or Everything?

Photo of the first Macy's shoppers at 6am this morning by Casey Kelbaugh.