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Is Black Wednesday on retail horizon?
Black Friday is getting earlier and earlier.

 Shoppers will line up during Thanksgiving Day at Toys R Us and elsewhere for ever-earlier Black Friday sales.
FILE/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/18/2012

BY CATHY JETT

Planning to snap up Black Friday deals on Black Friday this year?

If so, earlier shoppers might just beat you to the punch.

Black Friday deals will begin when Gander Mountain opens at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. And major retailers Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart will open at 8 that evening, which is an hour earlier than last year.

Target will be close behind, opening at 9 p.m. on Nov. 22, and almost all Spotsylvania Towne Centre merchants will open at midnight. Besides Sears, the exception is JCPenney, which won't open until 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

Last year, only a handful of mall merchants were open at midnight.

Getting earlier and earlier jumps on the busiest shopping time of the year is likely to pay off for retailers and job seekers alike, some experts say. Many shoppers may even prefer the chance to get Black Friday bargains in time to get to bed before the crack of dawn on Black Friday.

"We don't see as many morning shoppers at 6 a.m. [on Black Friday]," said Mark Gentry, manager of Spotsylvania Towne Centre and The Village at Towne Centre. "In the past, they got up at 3 and stood in line. Now they have the option of staying up late. They come out at 11 [to stand in line], and those same specials are available. From our point of view, it brought out more people."

But merchants also risk facing a backlash from some employees and shoppers who prefer spending Thanksgiving with family and friends. At last count Thursday, there were nearly 70 petitions on change.org to keep Black Friday on Black Friday.

Granted, some had only one or two supporters, but others had more than 100,000. If you'd like to weigh in on the topic, there's a poll on my What's In Store? blog on fredericksburg.com. The deadline to cast your vote is noon on Wednesday.

Here are the details on the Black Friday sales at some major stores next week:

Toys R Us: The first 200 customers in line at each store when it opens at 8 p.m. Nov. 22 will receive a goody bag filled with toys worth a total of $30.


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