TODAY   |  November 18, 2012

Bigger sales, earlier start for Black Friday deals

At least half of all Americans have started their holiday shopping already. The big retailers have taken notice, with some opening their doors Thursday night to kick off Black Friday deals. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> wait until the day after thanksgiving to start your holiday shopping, get set to wind up in the back of the line. the hunt for the best bargains has already started.

>> reporter: on the saturday before black friday, six days early, a few diehards set up camp, tents and all, outside a best buy in ft. myers, florida.

>> hi, merry christmas .

>> reporter: maybe they're just keeping up with the early rush. almost 50% have started their holiday shopping. remember these scenes of stores opening insanely early friday or even thursday at midnight? this year some of the big retailers, toys 'r' us, sears, kmart, and walmart will open at 8:00 p.m . on thanksgiving. just about the time many are sneaking leftovers.

>> i think 8:00 is the perfect time because you're finished with dinner. you can go walk it off and then you go back home.

>> reporter: the stores have a chance to get your dollars before someone else does.

>> the problem is if everybodies to it, all you're really doing is pulling sales forward and making them happen earlier this year on thanksgiving day rather than waiting until the friday.

>> reporter: and remember cyber monday, the online shopping day? well, that's moving up, too. as customers try to dodge the black friday crowds, more are shopping from home or work that day. retailers are making in store specials also available on the web.

>> last year someone was pepper sprayed. people see these headlines and say, well, i'm going to stay home because the online experience is so much better than you can get the same deals.

>> reporter: and for those who love to see and touch before they buy, a number of malls are offering valet parking, package delivery , and some other white glove perks.

>> hi, can i help you?

>> reporter: not everyone loves the full-court press on their pocketbooks. starting earlier and earlier each holiday season .

>> there should be some down time over the holidays.

>> there's plenty of time to get all the presents purchased between thanksgiving and christmas.

>> reporter: the black friday creep into thursday. has thanksgiving become for some just another day at the register? janet shamlian , nbc news, houston.

>> no. we were talking. online shopping more these days.

>> what impresses me, they already know what they want which i think is impressive.

>> i haven't seen made a list. i have one present bought. one.

>> thank you. that was nice of to you think of me. we've only been working together a short time.

>> i knew immediately what you needed and i wanted to make sure they didn't sell out.

>> so sweet.