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5 Ways Black Friday Holiday Shopping Has Already Begun

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- You'd think that with Halloween and Thanksgiving still ahead of us on the calendar, Black Friday and holiday shopping talk would be on the back burner for a while.

Way to not pay attention for the past few decades or so.

Black Friday is already on retailers' minds whether you like it or not. Know when Target (TGT) started talking about Black Friday? July, when it held a nine-day nationwide "Black Friday In July" sale. When did BlackFriday.info and BlackFriday.net start thinking about Black Friday? A week ago, when they merged into BlackFriday.com and marked off space for Target, Wal-Mart (WMT), Sears (SHLD), Kohl's (KSS), Amazon (AMZN), Best Buy (BBY), Dell (DELL) and others on its front page.

Still don't think Black Friday's something to worry about right now? Are you feeling nice and cozy in your candy corn and plastic costume cocoon waiting for your candy sham of a holiday to come before you start pricing turkeys? Get over yourself. We have five reasons why you're living in a dream would of antiquated, idealistic notions with a soul already darkened by encroaching Black Friday sales and deals:

1. The prognosticators are prognosticating: One of the first things you learn when writing for a financial publication is that retail market research groups like to speculate about the holidays way in advance - and send out multiple press releases detailing every paragraph of their findings.

The National Retail Federation works seemingly nonstop to track holiday retail trends, stopping only to make noise about credit card swipe fees every so often. On Oct. 2, the federation declared that holiday sales this year will increase 4.1%, to $586.1 billion. That prediction is "the most optimistic forecast NRF has released since the recession," according to federation President and CEO Matthew Shay, and higher than the 3.5% increase the industry has averaged over the past decade. The group also expects seasonal employment to grow by 585,000 to 625,000 over last year's totals, while partner Shop.com expects a 12% uptick in online holiday sales.

Market research firm NPD Group likes to get in the game early as well. On Oct. 9, it released a holiday survey finding that 23% of consumers planned to spend less this year, compared with 27% last year. They've also predicted that 16% of consumers have already begun their holiday shopping, while 21% will get started before Thanksgiving. That's more than a third of Americans whose quest for deals will begin well before Black Friday.

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