This year will be no different with crowds expected to swell. A survey from the National Retail Federation indicated 33 percent of respondents "definitely" plan on joining the Black Friday crowds, up from 27 percent in 2010. The association of retailers estimates Black Friday shoppers nationwide to reach 152 million.
While crowds will remain a staple of the holiday shopping event, operational hours will receive a makeover as more stores have joined the growing trend of ever-earlier Black Friday openings.
With more stores opening at midnight on Friday and select stores even earlier, shoppers are split on the changes. For Cartersville resident Arkino Walker, the switch to an earlier event is convenient fitting better with his work schedule.
"I started [Black Friday shopping] last year. But it's getting to be a regular thing," Walker said. "A lot of stores are having discount sales. It's a perfect time to get Christmas stuff.
"[Opening early] is a good thing because I'll be at work most of Thursday."
Cartersville resident Amanda Griffin, however, sees the situation in a much different light. A regular Black Friday shopper, Griffin and her family have fun with the annual sales event but do not appreciate earlier hours.
"We're going, but we're not going anywhere that's opening on Thanksgiving Day. We're not going to Toys R' Us because they're opening at 9 [p.m. Thanksgiving Day]. We're staying away from the stores that have taken away Thanksgiving for their employees," Griffin said. "Where's Black Friday? Where did it go? Next year, will they even close on Thanksgiving?"
Griffin and her family -- usually about nine strong -- start early, arriving a couple hours before midnight to find out where items are and who will get what. In previous years, they could shop at Walmart, opening at midnight, with time left to stand in line at Target or other retailers opening at 4 or 5 a.m.
Early shopping or not, Griffin plans on having a good time with family while continuing a family holiday tradition. For them, Black Friday is about more than just shopping.
"People laugh at us but we really go because it's a time when our kids are with the baby sitter, we can stay up all night with family and we'll usually get breakfast at like 4 o'clock in the morning," Griffin said. "It just starts off the holidays. We have fun, we laugh -- it's just a time to do something out of the normal."