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Black Friday shopping continues to evolve

Shoppers line up at the Baxer Target store for the Black Friday opening in 2016. Renee Richardson / Brainerd Dispatch

Black Friday traditionally begins the holiday shopping season, but the tradition has changed dramatically in recent years and continues to evolve.

For shoppers, that means more and more options and extended Black Friday sales, both online and in stores. Some Black Friday sales already started earlier this week with Best Buy, Ace Hardware and Joann Fabrics among a number of retailers with early Black Friday deals. And there are a number of stores continuing their tradition of staying closed on Thanksgiving Day from Ace Hardware to Costco to Mills Fleet Farm to Menards.

The rush of traffic of hardcore shoppers rising in pre-dawn darkness to stand in line for a 3 a.m. store opening is almost a long-ago memory. This is the fourth year since retailers changed their Black Friday traditions from those early morning hour openings on Friday to begin sales while Thanksgiving Day turkey dinners are still cooling on the table.

This year, the turkey may not even be on the dinner plates yet as Herberger's parent company decided to open all of its stores at 11 a.m. Thanksgiving Day with more than 700 doorbusters promised. Herberger's stores will be open through 11 p.m. Friday with doorbusters available through 3 p.m. Friday for what Herberger's calls 28 hours of deals. It's a significant change, and one people were anticipating the last two years as speculations grew that stores may open as early as noon on Thanksgiving. Herberger's went even earlier. By comparison, in 2016 Herberger's opened at 4:45 p.m.

Kohl's opening time also inched up. Last year, the retailer opened for Black Friday sales at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. This year, the opening will be 5 p.m. GameStop is opening for the first time on Thanksgiving.

The National Retail Federation reported survey results expecting more than 164 million consumers, representing 69 percent of Americans, to shop over Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday. For the first time in survey history, the federation reported the numbers include Cyber Monday in addition to Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Sunday.

"Of those considering shopping the long holiday weekend, the survey found that 20 percent plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day (32 million) but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 70 percent planning to shop then (115 million)," the federation reported. "A substantial 43 percent are expected to shop on Saturday (71 million), with 76 percent saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday. On Sunday, 21 percent expect to shop (35 million) and 48 percent are expected to shop on Cyber Monday (78 million)."

Of those shopping, the federation noted 66 percent said they're doing so to take advantage of deals and promotions retailers will offer, while 26 percent cited the tradition of shopping over Thanksgiving weekend and 23 percent said it's something to do over the holiday weekend. Another 23 percent said it is when they start their holiday shopping.

Small Business Saturday

This Friday is just the start to a long weekend of special days, including Small Business Saturday to focus on the big difference shoppers can make to local businesses and area jobs by spending part of their holiday spending offline and outside the big box retailers.

There are 31 shopping days until Christmas. To add pressure, just go to the online countdown at www.xmasclock.com/ and watch the seconds tick away.

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