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Millions to hit stores Friday for bargains

From news service reports

CHICAGO — Bargain-hungry shoppers will have plenty to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

An estimated 137 million consumers are expected to hit the stores over the four-day weekend — half on Friday alone — in what is shaping up to be one of the most competitive holiday seasons in years.

The Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally the busiest and most heavily promoted shopping day on the calendar. And this year, thanks to Wal-Mart’s aggressive price stance and the spread of Internet shopping, retailers are working extra hard to get shoppers to notice them before the biggest shopping day of the year arrives.

To gauge how frenzied the After-Thanksgiving-Day bargains have become this year, take the case of Abt Electronics in Glenview, Ill.

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The tony consumer electronics store, which typically eschews early-bird "doorbuster" deals, is jumping on the after-Thanksgiving bargain bandwagon for the first time with specials including a 42-inch plasma TV for $1,000.

"Any retailer who’s looking at other people’s ads has to be somewhat promotional this year," said Michael Abt, president of the family-owned store. "You could have avoided it two years ago, but not this year."

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