WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - We're just days away from Thanksgiving and Black Friday and retailers are hoping they'll find reasons to be thankful. Shoppers may be thankful, as well, as they can benefit from some changing Black Friday trends.
Millions of people flock to the stores and shopping malls every year on the day after Thanksgiving. The National Retail Federation is expecting 152 million shoppers to hit stores and web sites this Black Friday weekend.
Mollie Rhodes of West Palm Beach will not be one of them; however, she doesn't intend to miss out on some good sales. She's taking advantage of a Pre-Black Friday sale to find the dolls her daughter's obsessed with.
"They're called Lalaloopsies," she said. "Every time we think we have the whole collection, they come out with a new edition."
Jennifer McFarland, associate professor and the co-chairman of Northwood University's Advertising and Marketing Department, said expect more stores to lure shoppers like Rhodes to early Pre-Black Friday sales as well as opening earlier on Black Friday itself.
"I do see this becoming a Thanksgiving tradition," she said, "where retailers are opening earlier and earlier and Thanksgiving dinner might become Thanksgiving lunch."
Stores like Target and Best Buy are opening at midnight. Walmart Superstores are opening at 10:30 Thanksgiving night.
"I think it's a result of a slightly down economy," explained McFarland. "I think it's a result of a lot of people who may be out of work and trying to find ways to still make the holidays happen."
Stores are contacting those shoppers by email, phone, even text messages. If all the Black Friday deals and Pre-Black Friday deals are too hard to keep up with, you can even type "Black Friday" into your app store to find apps for your smart phone that will help you compare deals.
McFarland said shoppers will find more coupons and offers for free shipping.
Rhodes was able to use one of those coupons to pay for the toys she wanted for her daughter.
"Thank you so much! Thank you very much," she told a store employee. "Perfect."
Is it too much shopping too close to a time when people should be giving thanks?
"As consumers, everyone's looking for a deal," she said. "Everyone wants to know that they've saved a little bit extra and when it comes to loved ones, no one wants to say, "I'm sorry, we couldn't get that." I think everyone tries to do, even though they're thankful for what they have, they also want to make wishes and dreams come true for that future holiday coming up."
"I think they'll do everything that they can to make that happen," she added. "If that means standing in line at 10 o'clock for a Pre-Black Friday sale, they're going to be willing to do that."