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Holiday Survival Guide: Retail shopping outlook

Analysts predict online shopping to eclipse in-person purchases for the first time this holiday season. (WJAR)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WJAR) - It's become a holiday tradition: finish the Thanksgiving dishes, take a quick nap, and grab your wallet.

But with online sales surging, will the Black Friday frenzy eventually become a ghost of Christmas past?

"The research indicates that people still love the act of going out with their friends and family,” explained Kristen Regine, professor of marketing at Johnson and Wales University. “They love the thrill of the hunt, they love spending time with each other, and part of that is going to the stores with each other and being part of the chaos."

So Black Friday isn’t going anywhere. But chances are most Black Friday shoppers will take their money online, too.

According to the National Retail Federation, the internet will be the number one holiday shopping destination this year. A record 59% of consumers are planning to shop online this holiday.

Department stores fall to number two, with 57% of consumers planning to spend their holiday dollars at major retailers like Macy's, Nordstrom and Kohl’s.

The most requested gift of the season? "Gift cards and certificates are the number one leading item that people want to receive," said Regine.

Whatever the gift, early indicators suggest this could be a banner holiday season for retailers.

The NRF is projecting a 4% spike in sales over 2016, with the average consumer shelling out $967.

Regine says retailers can thank the calendar. This year, Thanksgiving is almost as early as it possibly can be – meaning extra shopping time.

“Due to Christmas falling on a Monday, it gives consumers a full weekend extra of shopping, and an extra full day for retailers to try to cash in on that opportunity,” explained Regine.

Whether you're shopping in store or online this holiday season, pay attention to the retailer's return policy. Some only offer 30 days, and if you shopped on Black Friday, the clock will run out before Christmas.

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