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Shop 'Til You Drop? Why Black Friday Started Earlier Than Ever This Year
'Black Friday' shoppers started hitting the stores for sales on Thursday this year.

Black Friday isn’t quite what it used to be. More stores are trying to get the jump on others by opening not only on Thanksgiving, but earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving.

This year, there may have been even more incentive to open early. That’s because there’s less time than usual before it’s time to start the pre-Christmas sales.

You might have heard that a quirk of the calendars had Thanksgiving and the start of Hanukkah on the same day this year. That once-in-several-lifetimes coincidence is a combination of a couple of things: an early Hanukkah and a Turkey Day that was as late in the calendar as it could be.

That late Thanksgiving led to a late Black Friday – and that worries retailers.

“The whole shopping season is almost a week shorter than it was last year," says Ben Bentzin. He's a marketing lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business.

Bentzin thinks stores are doing what they can to make the most of the weeks they have between now and Christmas.

“Thanksgiving is late this year and I’m certain that that probably is part of the calculus for the merchandisers and they’re also probably looking at previous years’ sales and seeing what merchandise moved the most," he says.

Bentzin suggests that this year’s late Black Friday also affected what stores stocked – and where – in the weeks leading to the peak of the season.

“Retailers, particularly in the run-up to the holiday season, are going to jealously guard every foot of shelf space and they’re thinking not only about what is the profit that they can earn from the merchandise that’s on that shelf, but also the profit that could be earned by merchandise that might be put there instead," Bentzin says.

Less than four weeks until Christmas, it’s likely one of the reasons that more stores started their Black Friday sales last night if not very early this morning.

Trey Shaar is an All Things Considered producer, reporter and host. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @treyshaar.
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