Many retailers in Queens kicked off Black Friday early this Thanksgiving, opening their doors at midnight or earlier on Thursday for shoppers intent on getting the best deals.

Nationwide, the early ploy seemed to work: the number of shoppers was up by 7 percent this year versus last, according to the National Retail Federation. Between Thursday night and Monday night, 226 million people shopped at stores and online, spending a whopping $52 billion, a 15.6 percent increase over last year.

Shopping online during “Cyber Monday” was also way up, by 33 percent, according to IBM Benchmark data.

At the Queens Center mall on Thursday night, the line to get in snaked around the building. Present in the throng were Meaghan Mackenzie and her mother, who had come all the way from Toronto to take part in the Black Friday savings.

Queens Center mall spokeswoman Dawn Simon said the number of shoppers was definitely up this year versus last year, according to the mall’s counters, though she declined to offer specific numbers or sales figures for the weekend.

Adopting the early bird strategy in the extreme, four people in line at Long Island City’s Best Buy — Harold Robles, Maria Garcia, David Michael and Sundos Michael — said they had skipped Thanksgiving altogether in favor of shopping, planting themselves in front of the store on Tuesday.   

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The economy may still be sluggish and unemployment at a stratospheric level, but you wouldn’t know it if you were an online retailer this past Monday. Cyber Monday has quickly become one of the biggest shopping days of the year and, with mobile shopping still in its early days and traffic growing by more than 200%, there is little doubt that next year’s numbers will be even more impressive. It would also be helpful if the economy begins to grow at a healthier rate and unemployment falls to a less apocalyptic level (today’s news about it falling by 0.4% is encouraging).

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