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Black Friday shopping to start even earlier this year

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:26 a.m.
Updated Nov. 27, 2013 at 5:27 a.m.

Like many people nationwide, sisters Tabitha Gage and Lynda Renteria have big plans Thursday to gather with loved ones, sit down to dinner and celebrate the long-held tradition that is Thanksgiving.

As soon as the plates are cleared, however, the girls said they're off for another tradition: Black Friday shopping.

"It's my hobby. I love shopping," 14-year-old Tabitha, of Port Lavaca, said with a grin. "We always go."

But with stores opening earlier than ever this year - some open as early as 6 p.m. Thursday - those post-Turkey Day consumers no longer have to wait until Friday to kick off the holiday shopping season.

Victoria stores starting off sales on Thanksgiving include Bealls, Finish Line, Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart and others.

Earlier hours are a natural progression for stores nationwide, said Ronnie Volkening, president and CEO of the Texas Retailers Association. Retailers research what customers want, he explained, and many find a positive response to kicking off sales sooner than before.

Competition is another factor to consider.

"Once you see the fellow down the street has opened, you almost feel naturally compelled (to follow suit)," Volkening noted. "Once one has done it, others tend to fall in line."

Really though, he said sales aren't starting any earlier than in 2012.

Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 28 this time around, he said, while last year's holiday hit on Nov. 22.

"It's a later start to the holiday shopping season," Volkening said.

Still, not every store plans to follow the Thanksgiving trend.

Stores like Aeropostale, Crazy 8, GameStop and others plan to open at midnight Thursday, while still more say they won't kick off sales until Friday morning.

The crew at H-E-B Plus!, for instance, won't open until 6 a.m. Friday, store director Rick Bishop said. Although the store has talked about opening earlier, he said it's important for employees to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with friends and families.

Opening later might mean other stores will reach their customers first, Bishop said, but that's OK.

"There's also a commitment to our work family and our partners," he said. "That's important to us and our culture."

That's a mindset Gus Korzekwa, of Yorktown, said he could get behind.

The 18-year-old who works in the oil industry said he's only attempted Black Friday shopping once. And, once he realized how big the event was - and that he hadn't planned ahead - he decided against hitting the stores.

Korzekwa said he prefers celebrating Thanksgiving to going after deals. But for those who do opt to shop, he said he doesn't like the idea of stores opening earlier.

"I'm sure the people working don't like it," he said.

Amelia Ramos, a Victoria stay-at-home mom, said she avoids Black Friday shopping altogether because she doesn't like the crowds. She might consider a shopping trip at some point throughout the weekend, however.

As for Lynda, a 17-year-old San Antonio resident in town for the holiday, she said she was all for an early start.

"We're already going to be up," she said, Best Buy ad already in hand Monday afternoon. "Why not shop?"

A glimpse at some of 2013's biggest Black Friday deals

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