GREENFIELD — Shoppers will have to start their Thanksgiving dinners early this year if they want to be in line for all the best deals.
Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday season, is known for blow-out bargains selling out in the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving, but this year the sales are starting even earlier. A number of local stores will open their doors on Thanksgiving, with sales starting as early as 8 p.m. Thursday night.
Both Wal-Mart and Goody’s will kick off Black Friday door buster deals at 8 p.m.
Wal-Mart has new deals taking effect at 8 p.m., 10 p.m. and then 5 a.m. Friday and continuing through Black Friday.
Goody’s will open for a special four-hour Thanksgiving “night owl” sale, starting at 8 p.m. Assistant manager Alecia Jeffries said employees have been planning for the onslaught of holiday shoppers for months.
“We’re hoping,” for big lines and crowds starting Thursday, she said.
The store will close at midnight and then reopen at 6 a.m. Friday for additional early-bird sales.
Jeffries said employees have to plan around unusual holiday work schedules, but it hasn’t been too difficult.
“If you love your job, you’ll do whatever it takes,” she said.
Other popular stores getting holiday shopping started early this year include Sears, which will also open at 8 p.m. and stay open overnight. Macy’s, Kohl’s and Best Buy will open at midnight following Thanksgiving.
As many as 150 million people are expected to shop either in-store or online during Black Friday weekend, according to a National Retail Federation survey. Specifically, 71 million said they would shop and another 76 million said they would wait and see what retailers have in-store that weekend.
Amy Schelle, Fortville, is one shopper still on the fence about Black Friday. Schelle said she’s waiting until Thursday to check out local ads and decide whether to brave the crowds Friday morning.
“We tried last year, but it was so busy we turned around and went home,” Schelle said.
At the top of her list, Schelle said, are toys and clothes for her two young sons.
“I’ll see if there are any good deals,” she said.
Clothes, toys and gift cards will be the most-splurged-upon items this year, said the NRF. Nearly six in 10 consumers will pick up clothes; about the same will buy gift cards. Nearly half of shoppers will be on the lookout for toys.
And many are willing to indulge. The NRF forecasts holiday sales to rise 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion this year.
But holiday shopping hardly ends after Black Friday. The Saturday after Thanksgiving is quickly becoming known as Small Business Saturday, where shoppers are urged to spend money at local stores. And for shoppers who won’t brave the crowds Friday and Saturday, there’s always Cyber Monday.
The Monday following Thanksgiving is marked by deals for online shoppers, like Debi Edwards.
The Greenfield resident was out Tuesday, but said she won’t make an appearance Friday.
Instead, her quest for a steal on a Keurig, the popular one-cup coffee brewing system, will take her online.
“I don’t enjoy the crowds,” Edwards said. “You can get just as many good deals online.”
When shopping online or in stores, the NRF recommends planning ahead for successful holiday shopping. Make a list of the people you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend before visiting any stores or websites, and do your research. Many retailers will post sale previews online. Websites like cybermonday.com can help.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.