Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / People move about at Hamilton Place Mall on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Long before the Thanksgiving dishes are stacked in the sink and family tensions have been lowered to a simmer, the holiday shopping season has already begun.

"We're seeing more stores having sales earlier, more that are open on Thanksgiving," said Taylor Bostwick, marketing director for Hamilton Place mall. "It does make for a less chaotic Black Friday, and it gives shoppers opportunities to get the deals they want and shop the way they want."

Both online and in-store bargains have spread holiday discounts across the month of November, and many stores are open on Thanksgiving to give shoppers a jump on their spending, Bostwick said.

"People have the option to have the Thanksgiving meal and then get out of the house after the meal," she said. "Others want to do Cyber Monday, or they shop local on Small Business Saturday."

But the early hours of Black Friday are still a big deal, and the mall will open at 6 a.m. to accommodate folks who love a good doorbuster, Bostwick said.

Samantha Lancaster of Ider, Alabama, spent Tuesday evening getting the lay of the land at Hamilton Place with her nieces, and she'll be back out shopping bright and early Friday morning at Walmart and Best Buy, she said.

"I'll be alone, so I'll be able to get in, get what I need, and get out," said Lancaster, 28, who has her eye on a TV she'd like to grab when it goes on sale. "The TV is for me, I won't lie about it, but I'll also be looking for a cellphone for my dad," she said.

By the numbers

165.3 million: People who will shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday

4%: gain in sales in November and December over 2018 as the economy continues to grow

$730 billion: Retail spending predicted over the holiday season

20 percent: the portion of annual retail sales made from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31 each year

Source: National Retail Federation




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Holiday shopping season

However they want to get it done, shoppers don't have as much time as they normally would to do it. Because Thanksgiving fell as late as possible this year, there are just 26 shopping days from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. That's six days fewer than last year and the smallest number of days possible between the two holidays.

"The holidays are going to sneak up on shoppers," said Brad Plothow, vice president of corporate marketing for Womply, a company that tracks small-business data. For small and local businesses, a compressed shopping season is probably good news, he said.

"If you're prone to procrastination, as so many of us are, the last-minute nature of shopping local bodes well for those businesses," he said. "Shipping presents will be a more difficult proposition."

While many big-box options are open on Thanksgiving, none of the 58 local businesses in the NorthShore Merchants Collective plans to turn turkey day into a work day, said Tina Harrison, the head of the collective and owner of Frazier Avenue gift shop blue skies.

And while stores on the North Shore will be open on Black Friday, owners expect Small Business Saturday to be the main attraction of the long weekend, Harrison said.

"That's bigger for us than Black Friday," she said.

The shorter shopping season is one factor that will help local businesses, but there's another force at work there, Plothow said.

"People want small businesses to win," he said. "Small Business Saturday has been growing, and there is always a subset of people who will go out of their way to shop local."

At Hamilton Place mall, however, folks will be lined up waiting for the doors to open at 6 a.m. Friday, Bostwick said. "We have a set procedure where we open every door at 6 a.m. because people are trying to get in any way they can as early as they can," she said.

Contact Mary Fortune at or 423-757-6653. Follow her on Twitter at @maryfortune.

Where and when to go:


Thanksgiving: 4 p.m.-1 a.m.

Black Friday: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Best Buy

Thanksgiving: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving

Black Friday: 8 a.m.-10 p.m.

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Thanksgiving: 6 p.m.-2 a.m.

Black Friday: 5 a.m.-10 p.m.

Hamilton Place:

Thanksgiving: Closed (with the exception of J.C. Penney and Belk)

Black Friday: 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Hobby Lobby

Thanksgiving: Closed

Black Friday: 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Home Depot

Thanksgiving: Closed

Black Friday: 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

J.C. Penney

Thanksgiving: 2 p.m. opening

Black Friday: 10 p.m. closing


Thanksgiving: 5 p.m. opening

Black Friday: Midnight closing


Thanksgiving: Closed

Black Friday: 6 a.m.- 9 p.m.

Northern Tool and Equipment

Thanksgiving: Closed

Black Friday: 6 a.m.-9 p.m.

Old Navy

Thanksgiving: 3 p.m. opening

Black Friday: 11 p.m. closing

Pet Smart

Thanksgiving: Closed

Black Friday: 7 a.m.-9 p.m.


Thanksgiving: 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

Black Friday: 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Walmart Supercenters

Thanksgiving: Open 24 hours

Black Friday: Open 24 hours