The Latest: Analyst says Black Friday off to strong start

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NEW YORK (AP) -- The Latest on holiday shoppers on Black Friday (all times local):
10:36 a.m.

Analyst Rod Sides of Deloitte LLP says Black Friday shopping is off to "a really good start."

Based on reports from his team who were in stores and malls over the past 24 hours, discounters like Target and Wal-Mart drew big crowds for door busters on Thursday. The attention is now shifting to mall stores Friday. He said based on checks at Macy's, Dillard's and Belks, accessories like shoes and handbags drew the most attention.

Sides acknowledged there are no new must haves and many of the big items like instapots were highlighted in past Black Friday circulars. But he says a good shopping season doesn't depend on new items.

"Black Friday isn't as important as it was in the past, but it is still the biggest shopping day," Sides said. "It is the most critical barometer of spending."

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12:37 a.m.
Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But with six fewer days, it will be the shortest season since 2013 because Thanksgiving fell on the fourth Thursday in November -- the latest possible date.
That means customers will have less time to shop and retailers will have less time to woo them.
The National Retail Federation baked the shorter season into its forecast, but it says the real drivers will be the job market. It forecasts that holiday sales will rise between 3.8% and 4.2%, an increase from the disappointing 2.1% growth seen in the November and December 2018 period.
Black Friday is expected to once again be the largest shopping day of the season, followed by the last Saturday before Christmas.