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THE BUZZ: THIS WEEK'S HOT STORY

Are we gearing up for Black Wednesday?

Saturday, November 24, 2012 - 12:01 am

Ah, remember the good old days when tradition still mattered? We’d all get to bed early after a day of turkey and nonstop NFL games, then get up rested and ready to track down those bargains on Black Friday. What glorious family outings!

Alas, another sacred holiday tradition has fallen by the wayside. In many stores, Black Friday actually starts at midnight on Thursday, and some of them even opened as early as 8 p.m. Can Black Wednesday be far behind?

There are a couple of reasons for the accelerated schedule, one short term and one long term. The “recession” may be over, but the economy remains fragile, and most retail outlets depend on holiday shopping to make a profit for the year. And over the horizon is the fact that online shopping will continue to take a larger percentage of shopping dollars. (Has it occurred to retailers that making a brutal shopping excursion even longer and more painful might not be the best way to lure people from the convenience of their Internet sites?)

Overall, it is estimated that sales on Black Friday will be up 3.8 percent from last year to $11.4 billion. But it’s a struggle. The National Retail Federation estimates overall sales in November will be rise about 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion, about flat with last year’s growth. The online part of that is expected to rise 15 percent to $68.4 billion.

There were fewer fights among this year’s shopping crowds, and nothing like the real riots we have had in the past. Finally, peace on Earth, good will to all!