Macy's Inc and a slew of other US retailers are opening on Thanksgiving for the first time ever in a bare-knuckled brawl for a bigger slice of overall holiday sales.
But it might not be so easy to lure most Americans from their turkey and football - particularly if the weather is foul.
Department store rivals Kohl's Corp and J.C. Penney Co Inc led a string of Thanksgiving opening announcements after Macy's said it would open its U.S. stores on the popular holiday, ending a 155-year tradition.
Sales trends, survey results and an online "Save Thanksgiving" backlash suggest that shoppers may resist the urge to splurge on the popular holiday.
But with six fewer shopping days this year than in 2012, retailers who get nearly half of annual profits during winter holiday season are nibbling away at Thanksgiving.
Target Corp, Best Buy Co Inc and Toys R Us are opening earlier on Thursday than they did last year.
Kmart is opening at 6 a.m. and many will offer so-called doorbuster deals starting as early as 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT) on Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, many Wal-Mart Stores Inc U.S. locations will be open all day with Thanksgiving specials offered beginning at 6 p.m.
"The ones that are opening earlier are going to get more sales, but in the end, I don't think the overall pie gets any bigger. It's just a share gain," said Brian Yarbrough, a retail analyst with Edward Jones.
He also estimates that overall sales for November and December will be up 2.8 percent. That is more conservative than the 3.9 percent jump forecast by the National Retail Federation.
The profit on those extra sales will depend on whether the eye-catching doorbuster sale prices are margin-squeezing loss leaders, analysts said.
The NRF expects up to 140 million shoppers to hit U.S. stores during the Thanksgiving weekend, slight more than the 139 million who turned out last year.
A wintry blast of heavy rain, wind and snow across the eastern United States disrupted Thanksgiving travel plans for many on Wednesday, but colder temperatures and drier conditions from Thursday in many U.S. markets means limited impact to business over the big shopping weekend, said Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services at Planalytics.
The storm "is providing some challenges for people to get to grandma's house, but the reality is, from a business perspective, it's the ideal scenario," Gold said. "Everything's going to clear out. It is going to