There's a lot at stake for both sides. Amazon has built a following, but wants to grow its business around the world. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to keep shoppers from using their stores as showrooms to test out and try on items before buying them for less on Amazon.
The holiday season ups the ante. Both online and brick-and-mortar retailers can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue in November and December. And this year, they're competing for the growing number of shoppers who are as comfortable buying online as in stores.
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— Mae Anderson and Anne D'Innocenzio, AP Retail Writers, New York
— Thursday, 11 p.m.: J. C. Penney's store in Manhattan was busy with bargain shoppers buying discounted sweaters, bed sheets and luggage, but the store was not packed. Among the doorbuster deals were 50 percent off on all fashion silver jewelry. The struggling department needs a solid holiday shopping season to help recover from a botched up transformation plan.
The company has brought back sales events and basic merchandise like khakis in forgiving fits. To kick off the holiday shopping season, Penney opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. That was much earlier than the 6 a.m. opening on Black Friday a year ago.
Tamara Robinson, 37, from Brooklyn, said she has been buying more at Penney in the last few months. Robinson was throwing bed sheets and comforters into her cart at Penney and planned to spend about $200 at the department store on Thursday. She then planned to go to Macy's and Best Buy.
"I am going to shop all night," she said.
— Thursday, 8 p.m.: Crowds of cheering shoppers pushed through the doors at the flagship Macy's Herald Square in New York City when it opened.