BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Holiday shopping season has already begun, if you can believe it. The turkey has not even made it to the table yet, but several major retailers kicked off online holiday sales.

Tim Williams reports there’s a reason the sales are starting earlier than ever.

It is becoming the new normal. The holiday shopping season is starting earlier and earlier each year. This season, online sales are leading the charge.

“You can compare prices; they don’t run out of sizes,” said one online shopper.

Online holiday sales are expected to be up more than 15 percent from 2012. Economists say the early start gives retailers an edge.

“It’s about market share. It’s about trying to capture those group of Americans that like to get this work done in November,” said economist Anirban Basu.

America’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, has kicked off online holiday shopping deals, followed by Target and others. Many transactions are being done on Amazon.

“It’s just a very, very competitive world out there and the sooner you can attract those customers, the better,” Basu said.

Basu says a late Thanksgiving shortens the shopping season by a week, so this strategy helps even the core.

“You know, before 8 o’clock and while you’re still in your slippers, you can see whatever deals are out there online. If you don’t like any, then you go to the stores when they open at 10 a.m. but you may not have to do that,” Basu said.

There’s expected to be a five percent boost in people looking for online deals. It’s the first time in 15 years the Internet is expected to be the number one shopping destination for the holidays.

And with one in four Americans using mobile devices to shop, online is becoming the new normal.

“It’s going to be like this for some time, and this year is no exception,” Basu said.

Holiday sales are forecasted to rise nearly four percent this year, up from 3.5 percent in 2012.

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Tim Williams

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