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Big crowds of shoppers expected Friday
4 Black Friday pic
Shoppers scramble for deals on a previous Black Friday at the Walmart in Dawsonville. Retailers are hoping this years traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season will be even more successful. - photo by File photo

With the official start of the holiday shopping season just hours away, thrifty shoppers and bargain hunters have begun looking for those special deals.

Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving shopping tradition is known, draws its name from an accounting term that indicates retailers have made a profit, or are "in the black."

A survey conducted for the National Retail Federation estimated 152 million people nationwide will shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Area retailers are hoping that's the case when some stores begin opening as early as 9 p.m. Thursday for what's being billed as Midnight Madness at North Georgia Premium Outlets.

"Midnight Madness is power shopping at its best," said Heather Halpern, general manager. "It is not for the meek. Be prepared for excitement, deals and lots of fellow bargain hunters."

With more than 140 shops at the outlet mall, and retail giant Walmart offering discounts on everything from toys and electronics to housewares and collectibles, local officials are also hoping for "in the black" sales figures.

"These shopping events are definitely a benefit for the county through the ancillary sales revenue the county collects," said Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County commission.