Her plans are simple and etched in blue ink: "Pjs and pumpkin pie."

Christine O'Meara has nothing else on her agenda for Black Friday.

Just as Black Friday hours have bucked tradition, so have the 44-year-old Dover resident's shopping habits.

"For years I woke up when my husband was just going to bed. I'd take my sister and some folding chairs and camp out in a store parking lot," she said. "Now the stores are all open long before when we used to go out."

O'Meara would take a nap after Thanksgiving dinner, wake up at midnight and start waiting in parking lots at about 2 a.m. in an effort to be the first in line for sales starting at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m.

"Now, it's all over by the morning," she said.

Most retailers have announced they will open their doors for Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day. Kmart is opening at 6 a.m. and will remain open for 41 consecutive hours. Toys R Us is opening at 5 p.m.; Best Buy and Walmart are opening at 6 p.m. Several others are opening at 8 p.m., including Bon-Ton, Boscov's, JC Penney, Kohl's, Macy's, Sears and Target.

"They shouldn't even call it Black Friday anymore because it all happens on Thursday," O'Meara said.

And it's a trend that has lost the doorbuster devotee.

"It's at the point where the hours made me choose between Thanksgiving and shopping, and I chose Thanksgiving," she said.


Advertisement

The strategy: Retailers have invaded the sacred holiday in search of more sales largely because they exhausted the days after Thanksgiving, said Eric Jones, co-founder of BestBlackFriday.com and BestCyberWeek.com.

What began as a one-day sale on Friday eventually became Small Business Saturday, a Sunday full of sales and Cyber Monday, he said.

"Now that they have extended to so many days of sales past Black Friday, the only place to place more sales is before Friday," he said.

A week of sales is turning into a month of sales, as retailers try to make up for a short, 27-day shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, analysts said. There are six fewer days in that time period, compared to 2012.

"The holiday creep is appearing among many retailers," said Ali Lipson, senior retail and apparel analyst at Mintel, a Chicago-based thinktank. "Many stores are announcing deals for Wednesday, too."

The National Retail Federation is predicting all the sales will result in $602 billion shopping season in November and December. That figure is a modest, 3.9 percent increase, compared to last year, when sales jumped 2.7 percent.

The modest gains are "a realistic look at where we are right now in this economy," according to the federation.

Large crowds are still expected at brick-and-mortar stores for Black Friday sales, but online sales have shown the most growth during the last three years, according to analysts.

Last year, Black Friday's online sales topped $1 billion for the first time -- a 16 percent increase from the previous year, according to ComScore, a Virginia-based research firm.

Statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau show online shopping increased nearly 10 percent from October 2012 to last month.

An online option: Many retailers are doubling down on Thanksgiving Day. Not only will they offer Black Friday sales that evening, many have announced some deals will be available online Thursday morning.

O'Meara said she will be one of those online shoppers.

"I'm not looking for a big TV or anything. The clothes and gifts I'm buying I can probably get online while my turkey is cooking," she said.

The turkey and dinner with family is all Meredith Purdy cares about.

The 53-year-old West York resident is hosting 30 family and friends for the holiday and isn't going to "rush out of Thanksgiving to go shopping," she said.

"I'm sure there will still be some things to buy during the weekend and in December. I'm not real worried about it," Purdy said.

Sara Brown, a 31-year-old York City resident, agreed.

"It's great if someone wants to go shopping on Thanksgiving, but I just can't get into it this year. I think I'm going to do my shopping at local shops and online closer to Christmas," she said.

Jill Wider, a 39-year-old Shiloh resident, said she'd like retailers to resume their former traditions.

"I liked it better the old way. Thanksgiving is for family, and Friday is for shopping."