Holiday shopping this year is a marathon, not a sprint.
More than a dozen major retailers from Wal-Mart to Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving Day and planned to stay open through Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. As a result, crowds formed early and often throughout the two days.
The holiday shopping season is transforming right before shoppers' eyes. For nearly a decade, Black Friday, which was initially named that because it was historically when retailers turned a profit for the year, had been the official start to the busy buying binge sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. Some like Macy's and J.C. Penney opened on Thanksgiving for the first time this year. Others like Gap Inc., which owns Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, opened some of its stores earlier on Thanksgiving than the year before. And many pushed up the discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November.
A Kmart store in midtown Manhattan in New York City was packed with people shopping for clothing and holiday decor items. The discounter opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and planned to stay open for 41 hours straight. Clothing was marked down from 30 percent to 50 percent.