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With this year's shorter holiday season, some retailers rolled out deals the day after Halloween.

GREENSBORO — With just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year's holiday shopping season is shorter than usual. 

It might not seem like it though, with so many stores kicking off sales in early November.

“I think retailers are preparing for that rather than waiting to try and draw customers ... because they know they’ve got a much shorter window to get people into their stores,” said Andy Ellen, president of the North Carolina Retail Merchants Association.

Early sales have become a staple of the holiday shopping season. Each year, retailers offer deals several days before Black Friday

However, with this year's shorter holiday season, some retailers rolled out deals the day after Halloween.

“There was a need to try to push some of the sales early and shoppers responded to that,” said Roger Beahm, executive director of the Center for Retail Innovation at Wake Forest University.

In a survey by the National Retail Federation, over half of consumers questioned during the first week of November said they had already begun their holiday shopping.

Still, the traditional shopping season begins on the day after Thanksgiving, better known as Black Friday. And while many big-box retailers now open their doors on Thursday evening, Friday remains king.

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For many, it’s a five-day marathon that runs through Cyber Monday, the biggest holiday shopping day for ecommerce.

“It’s the most intense period in the holidays when people will be doing most of their shopping,” Beahm said.

And shoppers are feeling the pressure.

“Where they usually have an extra week in November, in this case, they are going to be right into December," Ellen said. "I think you will see much more traffic throughout the weekend than you normally do.”

Despite early sales, over a quarter of shoppers surveyed said they still enjoy the tradition of Thanksgiving weekend shopping.

Young adults are among those who can’t wait to head out to the stores this weekend. According to the National Retail Federation, over three-quarters of those 18 to 24 surveyed said they are likely to shop. For many, it’s the social aspect.

Still not convinced to get off the couch? You’re not alone. However, about half of those couch potatoes would get up and shop if there is a sale on an item they want or if someone simply invites them along, the retail group said.

And shoppers are spending a little more this year.

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday retail sales in November and December will be up about 4% over last year.

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Where's some of that extra money going? Apparently to the dogs (and cats and other pets).

A 2019 shopping outlook by business consulting firm Price Waterhouse said people will spend an average $76 on their pets this holiday season.

“It highlights the fact that pets have become much more a part of the family than ever,” Beahm said.

Still, what we spend on our pets pales compared to the average $720 spent on a family, according to Price Waterhouse.

While the big retailers take in most of consumer dollars during the holidays, shoppers are turning to small merchants for that special gift, particularly on Small Business Saturday, which falls the day after Black Friday.

After snagging deals on televisions and video game consoles, shoppers head out the next day for more personal gifts.

“With holiday sales making up about 20% of a retailer’s annual sales, a successful holiday season is a necessity for most retailers, but especially independent retailers,” Ellen said.

Meanwhile, online shopping continues to grow.

Beahm said a Deloitte study shows that more than 70% of shoppers this weekend will make purchases online.

“The smartphone is becoming the new mall," he said. "People are shopping on their mobile devices more than ever.”

Convenience of ordering aside, Ellen said there is one reason shopping online is not necessarily an advantage over "brick and mortar" stores.

“With online retailers now collecting sales tax, consumers can be assured they aren’t at a financial disadvantage by shopping at their favorite local retailer,” he said.

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Contact at 336-373-7145 or at carl.wilson@greensboro.com. Follow on Twitter at Short_OrdersNR and on Facebook.

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