Less than crowded aisles at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving Day.
Less than crowded aisles at Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving Day.

The retail madness known as the Christmas shopping season began a day early this year — not on “Black Friday” but on “It Used To Be a Thanksgiving Holiday Thursday” as big box chains and many national retail outlets opened their doors early in the evening Thursday or — in some cases — even earlier in the day.

With chains like Best Buy , K-Mart and even the once formidable Sears facing a do or die retail season, pursuit of the almighty dollar far more important than stopping an observing a long-standing national holiday observance to stop and give thanks, greed won and the doors opened.

For many, however, it was too much too soon.  Reports from around the country say most stayed home on the couch, recovering from Thanksgiving Day stuffing, and waited until the usual start of holiday shopping gluttony — Black Friday.

Parking lots at area malls and big box stores appeared far from full Thursday evening.  Aisles were less than packed at Wal-Mart and while some camped out early in the parking lot at Best Buy, the lot was a far cry from some early-morning crowds when such stores opened early on Friday mornings.

“They are promising good deals on big-screen TVs and that’s our big present to ourselves this year if the price is right,” said Sara Browning, who sat in a lawn chair with her boyfriend and kids.

K-Mart opened its doors at 6 a.m. Thursday morning but the parking lot, with is seldom-crowded at the endangered retailer, appeared as vacant as ever.

This, of course, worries the bottom-line folks at the headquarters of national chains because it might also mean that more shoppers will stay home and keep their checkbooks and credit card filled wallets in their pockets.

The trend will appear clearer when the last of the stores close for the day at midnight Friday and, yes, some of their are open until that last second of the day.

Saturday and Sunday will also be shopping days to watch and, on Monday, eyes will turn to retailers like Amazon.Com for “Cyber Monday,” the most anticipated online-shopping day of the year.

Let the madness begin.

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