Black Friday begins Thursday night

Stephanie Wajsman waits in line at a Target store in Georgia
Stephanie Wajsman waits in line with other shoppers to checkout after getting a large screen television which was on sale at a Target store in Roswell, Ga., early Friday, Nov. 25, 2011.
AP Photo/Rich Addicks

In this country, Black Friday is becoming Black Thursday. For a lot of retailers, the holiday season begins Thursday night. More than 150 million people are expected to shop this weekend. Retailers hope to rake in $466 billion in holiday sales this year -- up nearly 3 percent over 2010. As CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports, the motto appears to be shop early -- or else.

As the fragile economic recovery continues, the fight for every shopping dollar is getting more fierce. For some retailers, that means a new holiday tradition: Black Friday beginning Thanksgiving night.

"Customers have been telling us for a long time they wanted to come in earlier," said Amy Adonis, a 12-year veteran of the holiday frenzy. She works for electronics giant Best Buy, one of several major retailers opening at midnight -- part of a push to grab each available customer.

"It's a whole multichannel business," she said. "People can shop online, shop from home, shop in the store, shop online while they are in the store. It just works out great."

Online shopping is expected to reach almost $38 billion this year -- a 15-percent jump from a year ago. But the 2.8 percent increase in stores is actually a smaller increase than 2010, when there was a 5.2 percent boost.

"It's a little bit less than what we've seen during good times," says retail analyst Marshal Cohen, suggesting the lower growth may be "a sign the nation's economic recovery is lagging. What this is, really, is good growth, but not great growth."

Part of the reason: a lack of confidence due to inaction in Washington.

"There is no jobs program," says Cohen. "There is no tax rebate that the president's put on the table, so it's really up to the consumer to go tow the line themselves."

But retailers hope the earlier discounts will lure less confident customers into stores. Anthony Malave and his sister Damaris camped out since Thursday morning at Best Buy - combining retail and time with the relatives.

"I think they should make it a little later so people can have time with their family," said Anthony, "and then go shopping."

"But you're still here?" Cordes asked him.

"I'm still here because I want the TV."

For retailers, there is a lot on the line. The holidays usually account for 25-40 percent of annual retail sales. Economists say that could mean as much as $466 billion in holiday sales revenue this year.

  • Elaine Quijano
    Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.