Black Friday file photo

Shoppers stand in line to buy clothes at the Old Navy in the Mall of Georgia on Black Friday in 2015 in this file photo. About 114.6 million Americans are expected to hit stores on Black Friday this year.

Don’t underestimate the tradition-fueled draw of going shopping after chowing down on Thanksgiving turkey. At least that’s the message coming down from the National Retail Federation.

While the federation recently announced a survey or shoppers showed 56% of participants had already started their holiday shopping as of the first week of November, the group also said Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday shopping is expected to remain strong this year.

On Black Friday alone, 114.6 million Americans are expected to head out to stores to take advantage of post-Thanksgiving shopping — and that’s after a projected 39.6 million people do some shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

“The tradition of Thanksgiving weekend holiday shopping has become a five-day event with consumers spending money in stores, supporting local small businesses, and online with their mobile devices and computers,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

“Even as people are starting to purchase gifts earlier in the season, consumers still enjoy finding good Thanksgiving deals and passing time shopping with family and friends over the long holiday weekend.”

The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest day of the Thanksgiving weekend shopping period, followed by Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, Thanksgiving Day and the Sunday between Small business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Those patterns are expected to repeat themselves this year.

“It’s very important, but Black Friday seems to have expanded,” Gwinnett Place Community Improvement district Executive Director Joe Allen said. “Years ago, it was just that one day. It’s now opening on Thanksgiving — my wife and daughter are already planning that they’re going to be at certain locations at 5 p.m. when they open on Thanksgiving day — so it’s not longer just Black Friday anymore.”

Allen said businesses in the CID are looking forward to the big shopping spree that the end of this week is expected to bring.

Although business headlines concerning the CID typically focus on its struggling namesake mall, the district still has major retailers that typically do big business on Black Friday, including Macy’s and Best Buy. A Kohl’s location is just a stone’s throw from the CID as well.

“It’s still big (in the Gwinnett Place CID),” Allen said. “We have over $1.1 billion (for all of) last year in retail sales, so retail is still very big here ... It’s really moved from the mall as the center to really be spread throughout the district to various large shopping centers.”

Allen also said he can understand the National Retail Federation’s conclusions that, one, people are doing earlier holiday shopping this year and, two, that Thanksgiving night and Black Friday will still be big for business.

The later timing of Thanksgiving this year may e one factor in why shoppers are hitting stores earlier this year, Allen said.

“It feels like we’re a week behind this year with (Black Friday) being a week later,” the CID’s executive director said. “I’m hearing that more and more people are shopping earlier.”

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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