Marling Sequeira has her Thanksgiving all planned: turkey, trimmings and pumpkin pie at her boyfriends in Miami, then a moonlit drive to Walmart to snag a 72-inch Samsung TV on sale for $800.
Its more exciting at midnight, said Sequeira, 22, a medical assistant who is moving into a new Brickell-area apartment with her boyfriend on Friday. Besides that, the specials are more convenient.
All over South Florida on Thursday, bargain-hungry shoppers will be gobbling down their Thanksgiving meals with an eye on heading to the mall.
Thursday is becoming the new Black Thursday, as the old-fashioned kickoff day of the holiday, Black Friday, creeps into Thanksgiving dessert.
Retailers are now commercializing Thanksgiving, giving the opportunity to the consumer who doesnt want to watch 12 hours of football, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at the NPD Group, a consumer and retail market research firm based in Port Washington, N.Y.
The stores goal, he said, is to compete more vigorously with online sites for those valuable early holiday dollars.
And retailers have learned that if they open their doors and offer deals, shoppers will come. Last year those who extended their hours saw sales rise up to 22 percent for the Black Friday weekend, while those retailers that did not lost up to 8 percent, Cohen said.
The result: this year, more than ever, shopping is seeping into Thanksgiving festivities.
Kmart is opening at 6 a.m. and Bass Pro Shops at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Sears and ToysRUs are opening at 8 p.m. Target is opening at 9 p.m. Loads of stores, including Macys, The Gap, Old Navy and Best Buy are opening at midnight. Best Buy is promising deals on such items as TVs, laptop computers, digital cameras and more.
Walmart is open 24 hours, so it will stay open all day on Thanksgiving, with specials offered at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Thursday and 5 a.m. on Friday.
Whether you want to stay up late on Thursday night or get up early on Friday, at Walmart we have a Black Friday event for you, said spokesman Steve Restivo. Walmart is offering price guarantees to shoppers who are inside a store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., on three hot-selling items, an Apple iPad2, an Emerson 32-inch LCD TV and an LG Blu-ray player.
In South Florida, even entire malls will open on Thanksgiving. Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater and Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise will be first, each opening at 9 p.m., and staying open until 10 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively, on Black Friday.
Dadeland Mall and Miami International Mall will open at midnight Thursday.
Were very excited to open at midnight and give our shoppers a head start to the holiday season, said Sara Valega, director of marketing for Miami International Mall, which will stay open until 11 p.m. on Friday.
Nationwide, 17 percent of consumers, or 41 million people are expected to shop on Thanksgiving, according to the latest consumer holiday tracking survey, released Tuesday by The International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs.
With stores opening earlier and earlier, and some retailers launching pre-Thanksgiving sales, the retail industry has officially crossed the traditional Black Friday barrier with no end in sight, said Kimberly Taylor, associate professor of marketing at Florida International University.