AP photos

HOLIDAY SHOPPING-CATALOGS

FREEPORT, Maine â¿¿ Despite the flood of holiday catalogs, annual catalog circulation by retailers has actually dipped substantially, with nearly a third fewer mailed compared to four years ago. Blame a postage increase, weak economy and more shoppers making purchases online. By David Sharp.

AP photo

Friday, Nov. 23

BLACK FRIDAY

NEW YORK â¿¿ With Black Friday, you never know what you're going to get. Some years during this annual shopping rite of passage, shoppers line up in the wee hours of the morning to get TVs. Other years, the toys are the objects of their focus. Sometimes, things go off without a hitch. Other times, there's lots of pushing and fights break out. Either way, the official kickoff of the busy holiday shopping season is always a moneymaker: It's estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8 percent to $11.4 billion this year. By Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio

AP photos.

Saturday, Nov. 24

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

TRENTON, N.J. â¿¿ Attention stores: It's OK to peek now. The first sales numbers showing how shoppers spent on Black Friday, the official kickoff to the shopping season, will be out on Saturday. By Business Writer Linda Johnson.

AP photos

Eds: Report expected at 4:15 p.m. EDT.

Sunday, Nov. 25

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

NEW YORK â¿¿ Will stores breathe a sigh of relief or prepare for a long, grueling holiday season? The National Retail Federation will release sales for the first weekend of the busy holiday shopping season on Sunday. Stores are hoping sales numbers will show that Americans are spending freely despite worries about the job market and a package of tax increases and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff" that will take effect in January unless Congress passes a budget deal by then. By Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio.

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