In the U.S. the turkeys have not even made it to the oven, yet the focus isn’t on what you might want to be thankful for – it seems to be on what we should be spending and how fast we can get out to the mall and shop!

Let the hype begin… Black Friday is rapidly approaching when theoretically the day accounts for 40 per cent of a retailer’s profit and when the balance sheet shifts from being in the “red” to being in the “black.” In the past, it was the day after Thanksgiving and considered the unofficial start to the holiday season. This year however, competition for fewer retail dollars is fierce and stores now feel they have to open earlier -- on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m.

Really! It doesn’t mean, however, they will make more money – it just feels as though they can’t afford not to pay attention to the competition, which has upped the ante. For the most part this seems to be a nationwide trend but not entirely, as laws in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts forbid stores from opening. You wonder who will be right in the long run?

Is everyone embracing this new trend? No. There is an online petition garnering some strength suggesting stores are crossing the line opening on Thanksgiving. They argue you have this consumer holiday – Black Friday now becoming Black Thursday bumping up against a more secular family holiday and it sends conflicting messages while diluting what they should be celebrating. Being thankful for what you have and not what you want.

Retailers are listening and yet don’t seem to be convinced, so they are opening, because no matter how you look at it, this is big business. According to the National Retail Federation 147 million people are expected to shop this weekend and that’s down only slightly from last year at 152 million.

I’m wondering is this simply a sport, a past-time or are there deals to be found? What I have discovered is just because a TV for example appears less expensive it may not be the brand you are looking for and many retailers will discount their in-house brands or budget brands to clear out inventory. Apple on the other hand has its once a year sale on Black Friday and you can usually save 5-10 per cent, both in stores and online. Remember though, it is never a good deal if it isn’t what you wanted in the first place and you can still go broke saving money.

What I’m finding interesting is that “Black Friday” is coming to Canada. Yes, we seem to be jumping on the bandwagon. According to a recent CIBC Poll one in 10 respondents will be taking advantage of Black Friday -- shopping and making some sort of purchase this weekend. As well, according to a recent Visa Poll 44 per cent of Canadians will be taking advantage of U.S. discounts and that’s up 10 per cent year over year.

We may see retailers kick up their promotional efforts in order to compete for retail dollars. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will bring in more inventory, they may just be trying to ensure cross-border shopping doesn’t bite into their profits. Under new rules, if you are stateside for 2-7 days you can now spend $800.00, Makes perfect business sense to me.

No matter how you look at it, people love to shop and love to get a great deal even more. Dare I say have a budget, stick to the budget and as a proud Canadian – buy at home. I know I will! Oh and you may want to hurry, there are only 35 days left until Christmas…