It's likely to be a busy day. The retailers have almost insured as much by having those Midnight Madness sales, where they unload a few 42-inch TVs for $16 or whatever and then, when the good stuff is sold out five minutes after the place opens, shoppers are left to peruse the higher-priced merchandise. And make no doubt, there will be shoppers - this business of getting up in the middle of the night to wait for the mall to open has become kind of a communal event (reminds me of the teenage girls who were at the midnight shows of "New Moon" last week).
But be careful about jumping to conclusions based on Black Friday. Last year was very strong - and then the rest of the season was terrible. This year, Friday will probably be strong, then Saturday a little slower and Sunday a little slower still. Projections are that more people to be shopping during those three days than was the case last year. One other note: More retailers, including WalMart, will be open on Thanksgiving Day itself, which would have been unthinkable in simpler times (think "Miracle on 34th Street"). But why not? The chains are already losing out to Amazon and other online retailers and their 24/7 operations. I'll be curious to see how well they do during the holiday - if sales are good, look for other chains to break the Thanksgiving barrier next year.