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Black Friday could be darkest time to shop

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Shopping traffic is usually at its heaviest and most profitable on Black Friday as stores pump deals and promotions to consumers. (Source: Texoma/MGN) Shopping traffic is usually at its heaviest and most profitable on Black Friday as stores pump deals and promotions to consumers. (Source: Texoma/MGN)

(RNN) - Black Friday will again rule as the premier shopping day of the year, but the best time to stock up on goodies could be almost a week later.

The shopping analytics company ShopperTrak identified 10 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas that will provide the chance to seize good deals while avoiding the frenzy of store traffic.

The days are ranked with the least amount of expected retail traffic at the top: Dec. 4, Dec. 3, Dec. 2, Dec. 11, Dec. 9, Dec. 10, Dec. 6, Dec. 13, Dec. 12, Dec. 16.

All of those are weekdays, which played highly into ShopperTrak's rankings.

Consumers can take advantage of more frequent lulls in store traffic that happen during the week and have a more comfortable experience picking what things they want to buy, according to ShopperTrak founder and chief executive officer Bill Martin.

Despite that, Black Friday and weekend days will likely hold their place as the preferred days for shoppers to spend money.

There are only four weekends, instead of the usual five, and 25 total days between the two major holidays. That has not happened since 2002 and won't happen again until 2019.

"It's favorable on the calendar is that Christmas falls on a Wednesday, which should make 'Super Saturday' Dec. 21 a strong day," Martin said in a teleconference with reporters. "It struggled a couple of times the last couple of years because of its proximity to Christmas Day. It could challenge for the top day of the year."

Martin said Dec. 22 is also expected to produce better sales numbers than last year because it is a weekend day.

Black Friday's dominance of holiday sales is giving way to retailers' eagerness to open earlier each year.

Several major chains opened Thanksgiving last year, and more large companies have joined the club this year.

"As the official kickoff to the holiday season, retailers are prepared to pull out all the stops for their online and store shoppers, including offering sweepstakes with cash prizes, free gifts with purchase and even exclusive opportunities to score top gift items before everyone else," National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

NRF estimated about 33 million people plan to shop on the holiday.

Online businesses are getting in on the act, too.

More than half of the 44 online retailers Shop.org surveyed said they would roll out promotions specifically for Thanksgiving Day.

ShopperTrak found December sales are down about 3.5 percent since 2004, and shopping in November is up about the same rate.

An early Hanukkah this year could add to that trend, but it is hard to tell what will happen from year to year.

Martin calls those variables geopolitical effects.

"We never know when that's going to happen," Martin said. "It could be political, it could be weather-related, it could be hostility related. And we never know what's going to happen to the price of gas."

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