Eric King, NBC 5 News
Holiday shopping season is a full 6 days shorter this year so many retailers are starting Black Friday on Thursday.
The holiday shopping season begins in a week, and retailers are already gearing up.
For the first time since 2002, Thanksgiving falls as late as the calendar possibly allows, shortening the Christmas shopping season by six days.
"From the companies I've been working with lately, we're all expecting it to be a better year than we've seen in the last few years, especially in the smaller companies," said Damian Skinner, a consumer expert with Starlight M3. "That compressed timeline is hitting a psychological trigger. People are thinking those stores are going to run out of that new toy or that video game."
Skinner is expecting a mad dash in and around the Metroplex.
"I think we're going to see a frenzy this year," he said. "A lot of the retailers I work with are already seeing greater numbers."
National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said the trade group expects to see plenty of people take advantage of deals on Thanksgiving Day and throughout the weekend.
"As the official kickoff to the holiday season, retailers are prepared to pull out all the stops for their online and store shoppers, including offering sweepstakes with cash prizes, free gifts with purchase and even exclusive opportunities to score top gift items before everyone else," he said.
With the major retailers offering extended hours and deep discounts, small businesses are finding specific ways to compete.
"We use our social media, Facebook and Instagram to put out there that we are a small business and here, lately, it's become a bigger deal," said Steven Gomez, of Earth Bones. "People are really wanting to get back to basics, mom-and-pop shops, and that's what we are, and we've always been that."
Earth Bones will not offer extended hours but will use its unique merchandise and Sundance Square location to compete with the major retailers, he said.
"We're downtown, so we're in Sundance Square and what is really going to help us this year over last year is, we have a whole new plaza that's open, and it's bringing in business, and we expect it will continue to bring in business," Gomez said.
Nationwide, up to 140 million people plan to or will shop over the long weekend, a slight decrease from the 147 million who planned to do so last year, according to a preliminary Thanksgiving weekend shopping survey by the National Retail Federation.
For the first time, the trade group asked people if they planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day. Of those who plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend, only 23.5 percent, or 33 million shoppers, plan to head out on Thanksgiving.
More: Black Friday Store Hours