SEBRING -This year, Black Friday is starting much earlier than usual at certain stores, and several big box stores will be open overnight from Thanksgiving Day to Black Friday.
At 8 a.m. today, Walmart will kick off its pre-Black Friday "savings event" in stores and online, "lowering the prices on popular toys and electronics, to match select Black Friday offers from Target, Toys R' Us and Best Buy one week early," the store says on its web site.
Shoppers can snag, among other toys, a LeapPad 2 for $39.99, down from $79, or a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, marked down from $34.99 to $49.87.
The pre-Black Friday electronics' sales include a 50-inch LG HDTV, which the retailer is marking down from $598 to $448.
"Black Friday is our Super Bowl and we plan to win," said Duncan Mac Naughton, Walmart's chief merchandising and marketing officer.
The news followed Sears and Kmart's announcement recently they would offer Black Friday deals to "Shop Your Way" rewards customers one week early.
Sears will have doorbuster sales this Friday and Saturday for their "Shop Your Way" rewards members, said a Sebring store employee.
While some shoppers like Katie Lindau Wilson bemoan the way "Christmas started in October this year," four in 10 shoppers said they will begin holiday shopping before Halloween, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.
Of those who shop before September and October, six in 10 do so to spread out their gift shopping budget, another four in 10 because the "prices and promotions are too good to pass up," and almost half jump-start their shopping early to avoid the holiday shopping crowds and the stress of last-minute shopping, the survey adds.
There could be another reason.
"With six fewer days from Thanksgiving to Christmas, the retail environment is more competitive than ever," Mac Naughton said.
Coupled with early discounts, some stores are also opening their doors earlier than usual and staying open later than usual for the actual Black Friday.
Kmart store manager Tom Tibble started hiring six to seven weeks ago for the store's extended Black Friday hours.
The Sebring Kmart will open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and close at 11 p.m. on Black Friday, making it a 41-hour run for Kmart shoppers.
Tibble said Kmart tested these hours at some other stores, and thinks it is the longest they have been open at the Sebring store.
"There is a lot of good shopping deals," he said, of the offerings - from electronics to apparel.
Sears will be open from 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29. Michaels will open at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day to 2 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29 and from 7 a.m. the following day to 10 p.m.
Bealls' hours are from 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29. Belk will be open from 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 29, and JC Penney from 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to 9 p.m. Black Friday.
Of course, not every business will be open on Thanksgiving. Books A Million will open at 7 a.m. Black Friday until 9 p.m. Home Depot will be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Big Lots will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Black Friday.
Office Max's hours are from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Black Friday. Office Depot will be open from 8 to 11 p.m. Thanksgiving and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Black Friday.
Lakeshore Mall manager Jenny Cheek thinks the extended hours this year are not very different from 2012.
Cheek said she understands why this trend has started among retailers.
When she came to the mall at 8 p.m. last Thanksgiving, she saw a line outside, extending all the way from the Sears store to Bealls.
"That's why so many stores are doing it this year," she said.
Meanwhile, Walmart has announced that compared to last year, they will offer "65 percent more inventory on televisions and double the number of tablets - some of the most popular Black Friday items."
In 2012, Walmart introduced its one-hour guarantee, a Black Friday event that guaranteed customers select items during a one-hour period. The retailer is bringing it back and expanding from the three items offered last year to 21.
Customers who are in the designated lines at Walmart between 6 and 7 p.m. or 8 and 9 p.m. Thursday will be able to purchase certain items.
Some 6 p.m. one-hour guarantee items include: a Vizio 60-inch LED 1080p HDTV for $688; Apple iPad mini Wi-Fi 16GB for $299 with a $100 Walmart gift card; a Funai 32-inch LED HDTV for $98.
Some 8 p.m. one-hour guarantee items are: Straight Talk Galaxy Centura prepaid phone for $29; an RCA 7-inch tablet for $49.