Put down the turkey and head to the mall: The holiday shopping season has officially begun

Forget dessert. Millions of Americans are abandoning the Thanksgiving dinner table to head to the mall.

While in years past, shoppers had to line up before dawn on Black Friday to get first dibs on holiday deals, a number of retailers are now flinging their doors open before the dishes have been cleared from the holiday feast. And many are more than willing to skip football to shop until they drop.   

Of the more than 164 million planning to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, 21 percent, or 34 million, say they intend to shop on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group.

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Discount seekers who don’t feel like braving the cold don’t have to leave the house at all; they can shop for sales by clicking on a keyboard. Consultancy PwC forecasts that over 70 percent of shoppers plan to start ticking off their holiday lists on Thanksgiving Dayand 55 percent are expected to shop online, up from 45 percent last year.

Thanksgiving won’t be the biggest online shopping day of the weekend, however. Cyber Monday is expected to be the winner, with spending forecast to grow 17.6 percent to $7.8 billion, according to software company Adobe Analytics. That’s followed by Black Friday, with a projected uptick of 17.2 percent to $5.9 billion. Online sales on Thanksgiving are expected to rise 16.5 percent to $3.3 billion.

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While the Thanksgiving weekend officially kicks off the holiday shopping season, Walmart, Amazon and J.C. Penney are among the retailers who began rolling out deals days or even weeks earlier in the race to win shoppers.

Retail spending this holiday season is expected to rise between 4.3 and 4.8 percent as compared to 2017, totaling roughly $717 to $721 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. 

Roughly 20 customers trickled into the Cabela’s in Gainesville, Virginia, Thursday morning as “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” played lightly in the background. The outdoors gear and hunting store opened its doors at 8 a.m. nationwide on Thanksgiving, promising customers deals for holiday shopping.

However, as with many other stores, Cabela’s is saving its heaviest artillery for Black Friday. At the Northern Virginia location, a whole section in the middle of the store is covered by plastic wrap, with signs that say “Just like Mom said, No Peeking! See you Friday 11/23 @ 5:00am.”

USA Today’s Ben Tobin contributed to this report.

For gift ideas and dates on deals, check out gifts.usatoday.com.


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