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More stores open on Thanksgiving; holiday sales may rise 3-4%

UNDATED (WRN)   Expecting bigger — and earlier — crowds as Christmas shopping gets under way.Many retail stores will kick off their Black Friday specials on Thursday, and critics say that’s just too early. Madison College marketing and retail expert Betty Hurd reminds us that with Thanksgiving coming so late this year, there’s less time between that holiday and Christmas. “In particular this year, there are six less days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the urgency just to have more time to be able to shop has become one of the issues — both for retailers and for customers, as well.”

More retailers are lowering their prices and opening their doors well before the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, and online merchants are offering great deals and free shipping. Even so, Hurd argues the idea of “Black Friday” is still quite significant. “Statistically where we’re at right now, approximately 33 million people are expected to shop on Thursday and 88 million on Friday. So, it’s still a big day and a big event for a lot of people.”

The National Retail Federation expects a 3.9 percent increase in sales for this holiday season, and that could be much higher in Wisconsin — up to 6 percent according to Madison retail consultant Doug Johnson.