Stores at many Bay Area retailers have been filled since late yesterday as "Black Friday," a day of shopping deals the day after Thanksgiving, officially gets under way this morning.
This year, Black Friday sales noticeably started creeping into Thanksgiving Day, with stores across the region opening as early as 8 p.m. last night.
Stoneridge Mall will opened at midnight and Paragon Outlets opened two hours earlier. Both will stay open through tonight's regular holiday closing hours.
"Black Friday is moving earlier and earlier," according to Dale Achabal, the executive director at the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University.
He said sales are becoming more elaborate and the day is something of a social event. He described the day as a way for many families to get together and "it really kicks off the holidays."
The door-buster sales and midnight openings might seem like gimmicks to get shoppers into stores, however Achabal said Black Friday presents real savings and value -- especially on big-ticket items such as TVs, laptops and other electronic items.
"Many times there are special buys that deliver phenomenal value to consumers," he said.
Not to be left out, online retailers such as Amazon.com created "Cyber Monday" several years ago for Internet sales the Monday following Black Friday, and has maintained its popularity as a way for those online to have big promotions following the brick-and-mortar retailers, Achabal said.
On Saturday, the small business community throughout the Bay Area has organized with the three-year-old tradition of "Small Business Saturday," held the day after Black Friday to support Main Street stores.
Steve Bangs, the spokesman for San Francisco District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA, said the designated day for local shopping, started by American Express in 2010, prompts consumers to think about what their money is supporting.
"SBA is encouraging people and small businesses to participate," Bangs said.
He suggested shoppers looking for purchases turn to small businesses where they can find items that don't necessarily come with an owner's manual, such as handcrafted gifts, floral arrangements, restaurant gift cards, food baskets and other more personalized items.
"Don't forget your local small business," Bangs said.
In 2011, American Express counted more than 100 million shoppers headed to small businesses across the U.S., Bangs said.
In Pleasanton, the city has proclaimed Saturday as "Small Business Saturday."