A new tradition is emerging in the United States - holiday shopping on Thanksgiving, a day that for nearly 150 years has mostly been commerce-free and centered on family gatherings and huge feasts.
Retail analyst Candace Corlett is president of WSL Strategic Retail in New York. She says that the shift in the priorities of the day is here to stay. "I think by next year it won't even be news."
The fourth Thursday in November has been designated as the U.S. national holiday of Thanksgiving since 1863. For most of that time, the streets of cities large and small ones alike were quiet during the day, with families and friends getting together to eat traditional turkey dinners.
But in recent years, some retail stores have started opening their doors to shoppers on the holiday. Now, ahead of this year's holiday on Thursday, even more stores say they are staying open, moving up their holiday shopping hours that traditionally only started on the day after Thanksgiving.
That day is known in the U.S. as Black Friday, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. It is called Black Friday because it is the day the financial fortunes of many retailers turn profitable, going from red ink to black on their ledgers.
One of the country's biggest retailers, department store chain Macy's, stages an annual Thanksgiving Day parade in New York with inflated balloon cartoon characters and marching bands. Some Macy's stores around the country have opened on the holiday in recent years.
This year, they all are.
The world's biggest retailer, Walmart Stores, has opened for business for 25 years on the holiday, but many other chains had opted not to, until now. Two other department store chains, J.C. Penney and Kohl's, are joining Macy's in opening this year, as are more than 150 other national retailers selling toys, clothes, food and many other products.
Corlett said the drive for corporate profits in the improving, but the still somewhat fragile American economy is behind the Thanksgiving store openings.
"Retailers are very anxious to get shoppers' spending money for holiday gifts. And whoever gets those dollars first wins. So the goal is to be open early when people might want to come out and shop," says Corlett.