People walk past a shop advertising 'Black Friday' discounts.
People walk past a shop advertising 'Black Friday' discounts. - 
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Black Friday deals aren't one-day deals anymore. Much of the time, shoppers don’t even have to go to the store to get them. 

The day after Thanksgiving has signaled the start of the holiday shopping season for years. Yory Wurmser, a retailing analyst at eMarketer, said it used to be the biggest day of the year for many retailers

“I think what you’re seeing now is the start or middle of a trend where Black Friday decreases in importance,” he said. “It’s probably still going to be a significant shopping day, but at the same time it’s probably going to lose its singular significance in the season."

Kathy Allen, spokesperson for the National Retail Federation, said Black Friday sales were down more than 10 percent last year.

“Retailers are still very interested in getting people in their doors and on their websites," she said. "But the notion of it being the first time to shop during the holiday season is just long gone.”

Nowadays, retailers want consumers to start thinking about buying things sooner. A lot of them are complaining about the lack of impulse buying – because more people are shopping online and avoiding shopping in stores. As a result, fewer people are heading out to buy a new TV and coming home with a trunk full of sweaters and that $19.99 cookwear set. 

Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail research analyst at Forrester, said sales are a lot more important than foot traffic numbers.

“I think this observation of foot traffic in physical stores being down is absolutely affected by the fact that more people are pre-shopping online,” she said.

Pradeep Chintagunta, a professor of marketing at the University of Chicago, said not all retailers are created equal.  

“I also think that there might be some difference between larger retailers and smaller retailers as to how they approach it," he said. "If you’re a smaller retailer trying to actually break out into the marketplace, this might be a useful thing for you to continue to do.” 

Black Friday’s not going anywhere. Retailers will still use the term to advertise those "one-day" deals consumers can't miss out on. But the time to get those deals is going to continue to lengthen. Gone are the days of waiting in the cold at two in the morning for doors to open in order to get the radical new gaming system for the kids.

Next year, it might be part of a Black Friday sale in September.

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Follow Andy Uhler at @AU_Marketplace