The Christmas shopping season starts tonight. The big stores, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart, are opening at 8 p.m., moving Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day. Peter Gill of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association says some shoppers are ready to go, right after Thanksgiving dinner. “Their sister is at their house, and as soon as they clean up the dishes, let’s go out! They’re giddy about it, and retailers are in business to appease their customers, so that’s what they’re gonna do,” he said.

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And for those who think this is not a good idea? “It’s really up to the shoppers. They’ve told the retailers over the past two years with their feet and with their money that they want to shop on Thanksgiving Day,” Gill said.

The big box stores typically open at 8 a.m., and they decided several years ago to go to 7 a.m., then 5 a.m., then midnight, and now, for the third year, the evening of Thanksgiving.

Retailers expect sales to be up 4 percent this Christmas season over last. That’s more than inflation and ahead of the 10-year average.

Gill says the economy is recovering but stores still have to cut prices to get people to buy. They’ll benefit this year from a shopping season of 33 days, including today.

(Copyright WBGZ Radio/