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Holiday shoppers looking to hit stores on Thanksgiving night
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An estimated 140 million shoppers will take advantage of holiday sales, some opting to forego the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and hitting the stores early in hopes of getting one of those advertised pre-Black Friday super deals.

Big-box retailers like Walmart will kick-off the holiday shopping season by opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

North Georgia Premium Outlets will also be opening select stores as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving for what they call "Midnight Madness."

According to this year's report by the National Retail Federation, 61.1 percent of potential shoppers interviewed say they will or may shop either on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday, which equates to more than 140.1 million unique shoppers.

Expectations are similar to last year's preliminary survey results of 140.3 million.

"Consumers today want more than just the discounts they've been showered with since the start of the recession; they want exclusive offerings and a good reason to spend their discretionary budgets," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "We could witness a change this holiday season as consumers' reliance on extremely deep discounts over the biggest shopping weekend of the year shifts to more of a ‘wait- and-see' mentality around what retailers will be offering on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

"We are positive retailers have a few tricks up their sleeve that will draw their customers to their stores and websites, deciding the deals are worth it after all."

While finding that perfect gift at a bargain price is alluring, the Dawson County Sheriff's Office wants to remind everyone of predators that target shoppers each holiday season.

They suggest these safety tips when holiday shopping:

• Be aware of your surroundings at all times, particularly when approaching or leaving your vehicle.

• Keep all car doors locked and windows closed while you are in or out of your vehicle.

• If you shop at night, park in a well-lit area, and avoid parking next to vans, trucks with camper shells or cars with tinted windows.

• If there are suspicious people in the area, do not approach your vehicle alone. Ask security for an escort before approaching your vehicle.

• Do not leave packages on the seats of your car. Lock all valuables in your trunk.

• Avoid wearing expensive jewelry.

• If possible, do not carry a purse or wallet. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash. If you must carry a large sum of money, divide the cash between your purse, pockets and/or wallet.

• Pay for purchases with a check or credit card whenever possible.

• Notify the credit card issuer immediately if your credit card is lost, stolen or misused. Keep a record at home of all of your credit card numbers. Make sure to store this information in a secure location at your home.

• Teach your child to stay close to you at all times while shopping. Show them in advance how to go to a store clerk and ask for help if you become separated.