GLENDALE ( — The Thanksgiving holiday may still be over two weeks away, but several Southland retailers have put their holiday merchandise on the shelves since before Halloween – even if most are unsure just what to expect.

KNX 1070’s Ed Mertz reports retail analysts and industry officials took part Tuesday in a 2013 Retail Holiday Panel at the Glendale Galleria to talk about local retail trends and forecasts and the hottest must-have toys and gifts for this Christmas season.

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The panel – which includes Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation economist Kimberly Ritter-Martinez – will also look at some projections for this season’s Black Friday, the shopping day that traditionally follows Thanksgiving and is considered the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season.

Ritter said while shoppers are a little more cautious than in previous years, analysts are expecting a 3.4 percent sales increase over last year.

“I do think people are feeling a little bit better than some of the consumer confidence numbers would indicate,” she said.

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Walmart and Amazon are among several retailers who have already kicked off early Black Friday deals on their respective websites, offering deep discounts on LCD TVs and tablet computers. Other stores like Macy’s, JC Penney, and Toys R Us will open their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving evening, while Kmart will open even before most families start stuffing their turkeys – 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Steve Schaeffer of told the KNX Business Hour that with six fewer shopping days this year and more deals already available, Black Friday could be less of a factor this year.

“Pretty much the entire season is going to be very deal-oriented, very coupon-oriented, or as we like to say, lots of offers all holiday season,” Schaeffer said.

A recent study found 53 percent of American adults are planning to do at least some of their shopping on Black Friday, according to Schaeffer.

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