BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Christmas decorations began going up just after Labor Day, and now the deals are coming fast and furious as retailers try and jump the gun on holiday sales. It's all part of a calculated strategy to get the most out of what -for many- is a make or break time of the year.
"Black Friday is huge to our store. It's one of the heaviest shopping days of the year," said Derek Litwin, a Front End Manager at the Target store on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo.
However, the contrast of Black Friday may blur a bit this year, as major retailers break tradition and start offering big holiday deals earlier than ever. In fact some have already started.
Surveys have indicated consumers plan to spend slightly more on gifts than last year.
But despite what may appear to be some light at the end of what's been a dark economic tunnel, retailers still don't see people spending gobs of cash. So they're essentially stretching the season to try and leapfrog each other in an attempt to be the first to lure shoppers to their stores.
"We're pretty aggressive with the way we're approaching our Christmas season and trying to get the guests in early to shop," Litwin told WGRZ-TV.
Joe Woodell of Buffalo spent part of his Friday afternoon at Target checking out some early deals.
"I'm looking for more value. I want to get everyone something they'll really like, but like everyone else, I'm on a budget," Woodell told 2 On Your Side.
Some shoppers say retailers who want their business would be wise to be aware of what they intend to buy and discount those items accordingly.
"I think I'll be shopping more for necessity than luxury," said Diane Scarver of Buffalo, who spoke with Channel 2 while shopping at the Sears store at Boulevard Mall in Amherst.
Back at the Delaware Avenue Target, Danise Wilson of Buffalo agreed.
"Clothing items, boots, I'm looking for things like that," she said.
The competition between retailers to meet the wants of consumers is expected to be particularly fierce this year.
"I think we (retailers) all kind of know everyone else's moves and actions. We're going to know what steps they'll take and we're going to match those steps and even go beyond those steps," said Sears Store Manager Nathan Quiter.
As such, Sears is taking the unusual step this year of being open on Thanksgiving day, the day before Black Friday.
"A lot of stores aren't going to be open (on Thanksgiving), so what we're trying to do is bring in the business," Quiter said.
The idea of stores being open on Thanksgiving day is a good one to some like Wilson who says she would "absolutely" sacrifice some time with her family to find bargains,...but not to Scarver, who said, "Thanksgiving is a family day, so I wouldn't participate."
Other shoppers we spoke with say if all of this tempers the usual mayhem of Black Friday, then it would be just fine with them.
Click on the video icon to watch the story from 2 On Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Bill Boyer.