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US Holiday Shopping Season Starts Early

It’s the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend in the United States. For many Americans the holiday means a big dinner, family time and a chance to reflect on the things they should be thankful for. But it’s also an important holiday for retailers, because for many, it’s the start of the lucrative holiday shopping season.

It’s a lucky day for at least one turkey. But as the holiday shopping season begins in the U.S. - retailers are busy making their own luck. For some, that means staying open on Thanksgiving. Some shoppers like the convenience - but it’s not for everyone.

But with an estimated 140 million Americans expected to hit the stores over the holiday weekend, retailers are doing everything they can to get a bigger slice of the pie, says the Small Business Majority’s John Arensmeyer.

“Well, it’s huge," he said. "I mean, we’re a consumer driven economy. Many, many businesses - both directly and indirectly depend upon retail sales during the holiday season.”

Americans spent nearly $60 billion over the same holiday weekend last year.

But with consumer confidence declining in November, businesses are only cautiously optimistic.

“We’ve seen the economy moving forward, albeit a little too slowly," he said. "So we’re hopeful that there’s going to be significant demand starting on Black Friday and moving through the entire holiday season. “

The holiday shopping season traditionally begins the day after Thanksgiving, often called Black Friday because it’s the day many retailers finally get out of the “red” and start making a profit.

Some stores are pre-empting Black Friday - opening their doors before the turkey dinners go cold - with discounts on everything from go karts to flat screen TV’s.

Some consumers camp for days to get the best deals.

But for those who don’t like to wait, shopping expert Trae Bodge says you can shop online for so called “Cyber Monday” specials - even before the weekend begins.

“The turf is changing now and retailers are making it much more convenient for the consumer to shop in the way that works best for them,” he said.

The National Retail Federation estimates the average American will spend $738 on gifts this year. Overall holiday sales are expected to top $600 billion - up four percent from last year.