Black Friday Creeps Into Thursday

ANNE D'INNOCENZIO

NEW YORK (AP) â¿¿ The nation's shoppers put the turkey down to take advantage of an early start to the holiday shopping season.

Stores typically open in the wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving that's named Black Friday because that is when they traditionally turn a profit for the year. But Black Friday openings have crept earlier and earlier over the past few years. Now, stores from Target to Toys R Us open their doors as early as Thanksgiving evening.

Target Corp. opened its doors at 9 p.m. on the holiday, three hours earlier than last year. Sears, which didn't open on Thanksgiving last year, opened at 8 p.m. on Thursday through 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Toys R Us opened at 8 p.m., an hour earlier than last year. And scores of other stores such as Macy's Inc. opened at midnight on Black Friday.

"I ate my turkey dinner and came right here," said Rasheed Ali, a 23-year-old student in New York City who bought a 50-inch Westinghouse TV for $349 and a Singer sewing machine for $50. "Then I'm going home and eating more."

Indeed, retailers were betting that the earlier openings would draw shoppers who prefer to head to stores after their pumpkin pie rather than get up early the next morning. When Macy's flagship Herald Square store in New York opened its doors at midnight, for instance, about 11,000 shoppers showed up. Overall, about 17 percent of shoppers said earlier this month that they planned to take advantage of Thanksgiving hours, according to an International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers.

The earlier hours are an effort by stores to make shopping more convenient for Americans, who still face economic uncertainty. Many shoppers are worried about high unemployment 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. At the same time, Americans have grown more comfortable shopping on websites such as Amazon.com, where they can get cheaper prices and buy from the comfort of their home or office cubicle.

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