For some families, it's not Thanksgiving without grandma's sweet potato pie. For families like Leigh Odom's, it's not Thanksgiving without an after-dinner strategic ops planning session: Shopping lists are itemized, routes are mapped out and a game plan is formed, all with military-like precision. Because after dinner, it's no longer Thanksgiving. It's Black Friday Eve.
To those who spend the Friday following Thanksgiving doing things like spending time with family, or working, or volunteering, or attempting to construct the world's greatest turkey leftover sandwich, Black Friday devotees are a mystery. Yes, an estimated 147 million Americans plan to go shopping sometime this weekend, according the National Retail Federation. But who are these people, what motivates them to rise before dawn in pursuit of a deal -- and have they really never heard of online shopping?
"The deals are part of it, but I don't think it's the bigger piece of it," says Jane Thomas, a professor of marketing at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. "This is the family ritual, as much as eating turkey and dressing is -- it's going shopping as the start of the holiday season together."
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