— This season appears to mark the end of Black Friday as we know it.
For decades, stores have opened their doors in wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. But this year, that changed when major chains from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving itself, turning the traditional busiest shopping day of the year into a two-day affair.
That means that shoppers who wanted to fall into a turkey-induced slumber could still head out to stores early on Black Friday. Others could head straight from the dinner table to stores on Turkey Day. And stores were able to attract both groups by offering door buster sales from $179 40-inch flat-screen TVs to $10 jeans at different times of the day.
Sam Chandler, 55, and his wife, Lori Chandler, 54, were a part of the early group. By the time they reached the Wal-Mart in Greenville, S.C. early Friday, they had already hit several stores, including Target and Best Buy. In fact, they had been shopping since midnight.
"We've learned over the years, you have to stand in line early and pray," Sam said.
Stu and April Schatz, residents of Rockland County, N.Y., preferred to get a later start. They went to the Shops at the Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, N.J., which didn't open until 7 a.m. on Black Friday, because they didn't want to deal with the crowds that show up for openings late night on Thanksgiving or midnight on Black Friday.
"It's so much more civilized going in the morning," said April Schatz, a teacher. "We wanted to enjoy our evening."
The earlier hours are an effort by stores to make shopping as convenient as possible for Americans, who they fear won't spend freely during the two-month holiday season in November and December because of economic uncertainty. Many shoppers are worried about high unemployment and whether or not Congress will be able to reach a budget deal by January before a package of spending cuts and tax increases known as the "fiscal cliff" takes effect.