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Cyber Monday

Black Friday may be getting lost in the shuffle

Black Friday isn't what it once was. The day after Thanksgiving, once considered the champion of shopping days, is no longer the first day of holiday buying or always the biggest. And it's far from the only time to pounce on rock-bottom deals.

Discounts now start earlier. The biggest chains open on Thanksgiving. Shoppers have learned they can count on last-minute price cuts. And online shopping has made the day less relevant.

"Black Friday hasn't faded away, though it is graying," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for The NPD Group, a market research firm.

Last year sales in stores and online fell 11 percent over the Thanksgiving weekend, according...