Some people would rather face a firing squad that hit the stores the day after Thanksgiving, which traditionally is the busiest retail shopping day of the year. But in the Fort Union Family Center parking lot Friday morning, the atmosphere was festive.

"This is a tradition for us," said Laurie Tucker of West Valley City. "It's fun!"Mom Jolene Tucker, plus sisters and sisters-in-law Julie, Lynda and Susie, were hoisting four boxed stereos into the car. They also bought a cordless phone and found toys for grandchildren at Wal-Mart. "We had to plunge into the store to get them. I never had to do the elbow shuffle before," said Laurie.

Elsewhere, sisters Karen Bourdon of Murray and Linda Baxter of Holladay were delighted with the treasures in their car trunk - mini CD players that ordinarily sell for $179 that they had purchased for $79.

They always make a day of it during this seasonal shopping rush, with shopping from morning until night, minus time out for lunch. "We scan the ads after Thanksgiving, we plan out where we're going to go - and we go," said Baxter.

"We've gotten up as early as 5:30, but this year we've gotten old and lazy so we got up at 7:30," Bourdon said, laughing. "We plan on long lines and have a blast."

"We don't care if the lines are long. We just stand there and visit," added Baxter.

Predictions are that electronics, sporting goods and toys will do well this year, while sales will be slower in clothing and shoes.

Some economists have suggested that Americans are worried about the huge credit-card debts they are carrying and may be more frugal this Christmas. That could be good for their budgets but worrisome for certain retailers who depend on Christmas for as much as half their revenue.

Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the huge "category killer" stores - stores that buy in volume and sell at discount prices - will do well this season.

Randy Epperson and his wife Gwendolyn of Salt Lake City were in the bargain-hunting mood Friday as they stocked up on boxes of videotapes that were selling for 49 cents per tape. "We might put them in somebody's stocking," Randy said.

"It was a madhouse in there," Gwendolyn said, gesturing toward the Future Shop. But she said the shoppers were in a good mood. "People in line were asking each other, `Where did you get that?' "

This was their first foray into the post-Thanksgiving shopping whirl, but they didn't seem to mind.

"We're going to Sears next to get toys for the grandchildren in Boston," Randy said. "We're going to buy kitchen sets for the children," Gwendolyn added. "We can pay for them here and they can pick them up there."

Kathi Lund, marketing director for Valley Fair Mall, said business was brisk from the start.

"It's kind of crazy here," Lund said. "It's like a real busy Saturday, so we love it. Kay-Bee Toy Store has been lined up all morning long. It looks like people are trying to get the hot toys. But actually, every store has people in it and people are carrying great big bags around."

Lund said both the Mervyn's and JC Penney stores opened at 7 a.m and both had long lines of people waiting to get in.

The JC Penney store in the Ogden City Mall also had people waiting in line for the doors to open, reports manager Dick Powers. It's too early in the day to predict what the best selling items will be, Powers said, but shoppers seem to be heading for the housewares, bedding and bath departments.

"It's still going strong and building," Powers said.

Dick Stam, salesman at Schu-bach Jewelers in the UniversityMall in Orem, said sales were slow this morning, but traditionally the afternoon of the day after Thanksgiving is frantic. "It'll pick up and then we'll be going batty," he said.

Wedding sets are a hot item in December since many couples are planning now for a spring or summer ceremony, and quite a few get married in December. "We usually sell as many wedding sets this time of year as in the spring. The young men get romantic and want to put it under the Christmas tree," Stam said.