Black Friday has officially taken over November

Anna Marum/The Oregonian - For the second year running, Black Friday started the day after Halloween.

Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail in New York, said the retreat on Thanksgiving Day hours shows that retailers are weighing their decisions carefully. And in some cases, the sales aren't worth the costs to staff the stores.

"I think it's more of a cultural ambivalence," she said. "If people were rushing out at 5 p.m. to shop, believe me the retailers would be open."

And while JC Penney will open at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving – one hour earlier than last year – it will be among the few stores open that early. Similar to last year, Macy's, Kohl's and Toys R Us will all open at 5 p.m.

Tim Campbell, a senior analyst with Boston-based Kantar Retail, said that shoppers have more choices in terms of how and when they shop, and that they're increasingly dictating what retailers do during the holidays.

For instance, shoppers can get many of Thanksgiving's doorbuster deals on their phone without leaving the dinner table or braving any lines. Choice is key, Campbell explained: Shoppers can get products delivered to their doors, or, if they'd rather not wait, they can pick up products in-store.

"The shopper has taken control of the season," he said, "and (retailers) are scrambling to keep up."

Consumers also are taking advantage of the early November discounts by starting their holiday shopping earlier.

According to a survey by RetailMeNot, 45 percent of respondents said they planned to start their holiday shopping before Nov. 1. And 54 percent said they hoped to start buying gifts before Black Friday.

But analysts like Corlett insist procrastinators haven't missed out on the season's best deals.

To score a great price on an item, she suggests leaving it in your online cart and waiting for the retailer to email you with a coupon code or news of a sale.

"The nature of retail now, is there's a sale 24/7," she said. "If what you want isn't on sale now, hold your breath for 10 seconds and it will be on sale."