NEW YORK (AP) - Stores open their doors Friday for what is still one of the busiest days of the year, even as the start of the holiday season edges ever earlier.

Many stores are offering the same deals as in previous years, like $19.99 boots that remain a big attraction, cashmere sweaters, and sheets. For some shoppers, big discounts on electronics are the draw.

Stores like Macy's, Walmart, Target and more were open Thursday evening in what they hope will be a new holiday tradition.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, vies with the Saturday before Christmas as the biggest sales day.

The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail group, expects holiday sales to rise 3.6 percent for November and December, better than the 3 percent growth seen for those months last year.