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Thanksgiving: Americans to abandon dinner tables early for 'Grey Thursday'

Millions of Americans are expected to abandon their Thanksgiving dinners today and head into the cold in search of sales as the traditional "Black Friday" shopping free-for-all blurs into a "Grey Thursday".


For years US bargain hunters have spent the Friday morning after Thanksgiving waiting in predawn lines for the chance to storm into shops and snatch up the best deals.

Major retailers open as early as 1am and often provoke stampedes from shoppers who will push, shove, pepper spray, and even occasionally shoot each other in order to secure the best discounts.

Now the frenzy of shopping is beginning to creep forward with some shops beginning sales on the evening of Thanksgiving, a time usually reserved for family and digesting hearty meals.

Many shops will throw open doors at 8pm, including 'Toys R Us' which is seeking to entice early shoppers with the promise of free gift bags for the first 200 people in line.

While businesses insist they are only responding to overwhelming public demand, the "Thanksgiving Creep" has sparked protests from workers being asked to give up their holiday.

Casey St Clair, a 24-year-old employee of retail giant Target, created an online petition urging the company "to take the high road and save Thanksgiving for employees".

"You are most likely tucked away in bed while workers are in the stores pushing back a rabid crowd of shoppers trying to get an iPod," she wrote in an open letter to Gregg Steinhafel, Target's chief executive.

The petition has gathered more than 360,000 signatures.

Rick Segel, an author and retail expert, warned that the trend of Thanksgiving openings was "inevitable" and only likely to continue.

"The retailers have created an event and people want to be part of that event. They want to wait it line with hundreds of other people for the store opening – it's part of the thrill," he told The Daily Telegraph.

Black Friday is usually the busiest day in the shopping calendar, even if it does not always rack up the highest level of sales.

Two people were shot during robberies last year and at least 10 people injured when a woman fired pepper spray in a crowded Walmart.

While Thanksgiving shopping may partly dilute the frenzy on Black Friday, experts have also noticed a growing trend towards "Cyber Monday" – when shoppers return to work and use their office computers to find bargains online. Britain's cyber Monday meanwhile is on Monday December 3, with more than 100 million online visits expected, according to data by analyst group Experian.