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November 21, 2012

Retailers wait to see if economic concerns keep shoppers from Black Friday sales

(Continued)

Wal-Mart workers demanding better pay and benefits have vowed to stage more than 1,000 protests online and outside U.S. stores this week. To gain leverage, protest leaders will have to turn out significant numbers of strikers and persuade bargain- hunters to go elsewhere. Similar protests in recent weeks have had little perceptible impact.

Some merchants, including J.C. Penney and Staples, say they'll remain closed on Thanksgiving because they don't want to infringe on their workers' time with family.

Even without opening early, retailers will benefit from the maximum number of days possible — 32 _between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, said Roseanne McCauley, vice president of the Americas for Experian FootFall, which tracks traffic and other data for retailers.

"People have two more paychecks coming in before the end of the month," she said.

Adding a sales day from Thanksgiving "is going to absolutely increase volume" for retailers, enabling them to stick to their planned schedule of markdowns, McCauley said. "At the end of the day, the hours are driven by the consumers."

 With assistance from Matt Townsend, Sapna Maheshwari, Renee Dudley and Elizabeth Dexheimer in New York, Cotten Timberlake in Washington and Ari Altstedter in Toronto.

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