Black Friday 2013: Walmart, Best Buy already attract lines of shoppers

(CNN) - The mad dash for gifts and savings known as Black Friday used to start on, well, Friday. For most retailers, that's a thing of the past.

Several national stores have launched their holiday sales early, with a cadre of them opening up on the night of Thanksgiving and even more rolling out their sales online in the days leading up to the busiest shopping season of the year.

Walmart is already slashing its prices for a Pre-Black Friday Sale that got started last Friday, a full week before most others. The nation's largest retailer will open its doors on Thursday night at 6 p.m.

"We know that last year, 35 million shoppers were out in stores and shopping online on Thanksgiving day, and we're fully expecting to see just as many people this year," National Retail Federation spokeswoman Kathy Grannis said.

At many places, people still go as far as to camp out to make sure they don't miss deals. At Best Buy locations in Maryland, Florida and Ohio, hardy shoppers have already been spotted pitching tents on sidewalks outside the electronics megatores.

But how are retailers enticing shoppers to come inside, especially those who hate the frenzied crowds that accompany Black Friday? Big box stores are now luring them out with promises of, among other things, price-matching with competitors. NRF officials say that millenials - those aged 25-34 - are driving this trend, but it's not for everyone.

Retail analysts say that Black Friday will still attract 46 percent of consumers and 34 percent of them will be back in stores in the following days.

And if you think it ends on Friday, forget it. Cyber Monday looms right around the corner.