By George Solis

HUNT VALLEY, Md. (WJZ)– Like it or not, the holiday shopping season is upon us, Black Friday deals already underway.

Many are trying to find those great deals online and why not? No lines and no wait. That doesn’t mean the big box stores don’t have a few tricks up their sleeves to draw you in.

For retailers this truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Days before the official start of Black Friday WJZ already found some early bird shoppers braving the chilly temps for some deals.

“We’ve been here for a while, but we’re still checking out stores,” shopper Lisa Springer said.

The National Retail Federation estimates 164 million people will shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, which includes small business Saturday and increasingly popular Cyber Monday.

For some shopping in the great outdoors is a thing of the past. Many now are looking for those bargain deals out in cyberspace.

[REPORTER: Is there anything in your opinion that would ever be worth coming and waiting in line for in this day and age?]

“Pay off my mortgage,” shopper Karen Scott said.

Retail experts say despite the popularity of online shopping-big box stores still aren’t down for the count.

“We’re going to see a lot of consumers still shop in store to buy those big ticketed items whether it’s a TV or the latest kitchenware item to even the most popular Nintendo or Xbox’s out there,” said Ana Serafin Smith of the National Retail Federation.

In some cases, brick-and-mortar stores are going beyond just great deals.

An Eddie Bauer in Ohio created an ice box so customers can try out cold weather gear. One Saks Fifth Avenue store put a fitness center in their store.

But some experts fear it may not be enough.

“If it seems like a gimmick today’s customer sees right through it,” one expert said.

Some argue it’s actually less complicated than that.

“I have to like the clothes first and foremost and of course the prices. I have to be able to afford it,” shopper Delka Douglass said.

Retail experts say this year the top three most popular gifts items will be clothes, gift cards, and electronics.

It is estimated in the next five years 1 in 4 U.S. malls will close.

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