Black Friday deals arrive early

(CNN) - Forget Black Friday.

Walmart announced Thursday it will open at 8:00 Thanksgiving night this year, offering deals to entice early shoppers. It's the second year in a row that Walmart has opened on Thanksgiving night but it's opening two hours earlier this year.

Sears and K-Mart have also announced they'll open on Thanksgiving and more retailers could follow suit.

Walmart says it's responding to what consumers want. The retailer's chief merchandising and marketing officer says the company is responding to customers who say they want to have their turkey, go shopping and get to bet at a reasonable hour -- all in the same day.

The number of shoppers hitting the stores on Thanksgiving Day has soared in the last three years, from a little over 3 percent in 2009 to more than 24 percent last year.

And they're not alone - the majority of consumers are getting an early start on their shopping this year. 90 percent of people say they'll start their holiday shopping before December, according to the National Retail Federation. 12 percent started before September.

Retailers have to be ready for the influx. Christmas shopping season is the most critical time of year for them, no matter how long that season lasts.