It feels a lot like 2010 out there, as shoppers are having to hit the early morning circuit if they want to snap up Black Friday deals in Western Montana stores. 

For the past several years, more and more stores, especially of the big box variety, were moving into opening on Thanksgiving afternoon and evening, as they tried to tap into people's post-meal time to get out and start their shopping.

But COVID put the brakes on that fad, with many stores in 2020 opting to drop their Thanksgiving openings, not only because of health concerns but because many were having a hard time finding enough employees to fill the extra shifts. Many workers also started to push back, saying they didn't want the extra hours and would rather spend all of Thursday with their families. 

Another trend has been more shoppers leaning into snapping up deals online, rather than in-store. 

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Last year, and again this year, more of the larger retailers are deciding to leave Thanksgiving openings in the past. compiled a list of major retailers who won't be opening Thursday but will expand their hours to include a long shopping day for Black Friday. 

The website reported retailers like Bath & Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond, Home Depot, and Lowe's planned to open at 6 am Friday. Others, including Best Buy, Kohl's, Old Navy, and Walmart were opening earlier, at 5 am. 

Target won't open until 7 am, along with Michael's craft stores, and Ashley Furniture. Southgate Mall also plans to open earlier, at 7 am. 

Costco plans to open at its regular 9 am time on Friday, which is traditional for the company's approach to Thanksgiving shopping. REI planned to stay closed on both Thursday and Friday. 

One exception was Cabela's, which opened at 8 am Thursday and planned to remain open all day long. 

Downtown merchants in Missoula and Hamilton will be targeting early shoppers again with Shop Small Saturday events this weekend.

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