LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Retailers across Southern California opened their doors early Friday for what is considered the unofficial start to the Christmas shopping season.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports crowds formed before dawn at stores from over a dozen major retailers from Target to Toys R Us.

The holiday shopping season is transforming right before shoppers’ eyes. For nearly a decade, Black Friday had been the official start to the busy buying binge sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It was named Black Friday because that was traditionally when retailers turned a profit, or moved out of the red and into the black.

But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. Some like Macy’s and J.C. Penney opened on Thanksgiving for the first time this year.

Others like Gap Inc., which owns Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, opened some stores earlier on Thanksgiving than the year before. And many pushed up the discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November.

It’s unclear whether or not the early openings will lead shoppers to spend more over the two days or simply spread sales between the two days.

A Consumer Reports poll found that over half of all Americans – 56 percent – had no plans to do any Christmas shopping on Friday.

Last year, the Thanksgiving openings took a bite out of Black Friday sales last year: Sales on turkey day were $810 million last year, an increase of 55 percent from the previous year as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak.

But sales dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year.

Walmart workers had threatened to picket several stores in the Southland, but as KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports, picketers failed to show up in Torrance.

Joanne Leighton, who came to the store to buy an iPhone 5 for her 13-year-old son said if protesters did show up, she would support them in their efforts.

“That’s their right…and it will make me actually pay attention to that issue,” Leighton said.

Community groups and elected officials were expected to join Southern California Walmart workers at protests at 6 a.m. in Ontario and at 12 noon in South Los Angeles.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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