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LITTLE ROCK, Ark.(KTHV) --The stakes are high for many retailers, who can earn more than a third of their annual sales during the holiday season.

This year that earning period started earlier than ever.

Bargain hunters wasted no time this year getting Black Friday off the ground. Shoppers at Park Plaza Mall began lining up as several stores opened their doors at midnight.

Brittany Allen and her friend Lauren Storment said they made the trip from Atkins late Thursday in order to get their hands on $25 hoodies and other deals at Victoria's Secret.

"We've eaten all day, so we figure why not just stay up all night and come get some good deals," said Brittany.

Minutes before the stores opened, Brittany and Lauren said they had a strategy once they get in the store.

"Just grab whatever you want and then if we have to try on something just get two, like a small and medium. Just grab them both. Then you'll have both of them just in case," she said

Farther back in the line, Jeff Patrick waited with his wife and teenage daughter for the clock to strike midnight, but he admits he didn't know their shopping plan included the mall.

"That's a good question. We started earlier, but they decided they wanted to come to the mall," he said. "Then they abandoned me for a little, and here I am."

A minute after midnight, shoppers swept the stores.

On the other end of the spectrum, retailer Learning Express kept regular store hours Friday. Owner Joy Figarsky said there's no reason for them to open early.

"We just can't compete with the hours, but what we can compete with is by offering special customer service."

Figarsky said small retailers offer services that the big toy stores don't.
"You can call, and we'll have something ready for you before you ever get here. We do free gift wrapping, we help people out to their car all the time with gifts."

The National Retail Federation is forecasting more than a 4 percent increase in retail sales this holiday season. That's down from a 5.6 percent increase seen last year.