SIOUX CITY -- If you're a hard-core bargain shoppers, consider loading up on caffeine after pushing yourself away from the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day.
With Black Friday morphing into a late-night affair this year, that extra boost of energy could come in handy.
A plethora of big-box retailers and shopping centers will start offering their "door-buster" specials at midnight Friday, instead of their usual practice of waiting until the wee hours of the morning.
In an intense competition for dollars from consumers worried about a rough national economy, many stores also will offer marathon hours throughout this weekend.
Here's are six things to know about the official kickoff of the 2011 holiday shopping season.
MIDNIGHT MADNESS: Target, an anchor at Sunnybrook Plaza, and Kohl's and Best Buy, two of the anchors at Lakeport Commons, are among the big-box stores planning midnight openings for the first time on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
For the first time in its 31-year history, Southern Hills Mall also will open all four of its entrances when the clock strikes midnight on Black Friday. Local managers for the Sioux City mall, owned by The Macerich Co., are bracing for a big late-night turnout, based on performances at its other shopping centers that switched to the earlier start times last year.
"There's a group of people that it's easier for them to stay up til midnight and do their shopping, rather than go to bed and try to wake up earlier to go out," said Kris Walter-Wenell, senior marketing manager for Southern Hills Mall.
SOME HOLDOUTS: Nearly all the Southern Hills Mall tenants will open at midnight, including one of its anchors, Younkers. Three other anchors are sticking with more traditional early morning start times, with J.C. Penney opening at 3 a.m., Sears at 4 a.m. and Scheels at 6 a.m.
Sioux City-based Bomgaars is among some other retailers planning 6 a.m. openings. Kmart, which will be again be open on Thanksgiving Day this year, will start at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
STAGGERED DEALS: Walmart, which operates several supercenters in Siouxland, is holding three staggered door-buster sales - starting at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving for toys and apparel, followed by an electronics event at midnight Friday, and an 8 a.m. promotion focusing on family gifts.
The nation's largest retailer aims to not only appeal to customers who like to stay up late, but also spread out its traffic, helping avoid a stampede like the one on Black Friday 2009 that led to the death of a worker at a Walmart in New York.
SUPERSIZED HOURS: Kohl's will be open for 24 straight hours on Black Friday, the department store chain's longest ever operational day. Several other retailers with midnight start times on Black Friday also will stay open late into the night, and then reopen early the next morning on Saturday.
PIGSKIN RIVALRY: Customer traffic in Siouxland stores could be lighter in the late morning and afternoon hours than in past Black Fridays. That's because the Iowa-Nebraska football game kicks off at 1 p.m. in Lincoln. The two border rivals are meeting for the first time since Nebraska joined the Big Ten Conference, as well as for the first time on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
"I think there's going to be a significant number of people that want to make sure they get their shopping done early, grab a couple of hours of sleep and then get up and watch the ball game," Walter-Wenell said.
With local loyalties divided between the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers, many metro area bars are heavily promoting the big game, offering food and drink specials. Two large game-day viewing events are planned downtown -- one at the Sioux City Convention Center and another at the Riveria Theater.
The Riveria's sister theater in Le Mars, Iowa, the Royal 3 Cinema, also will be showing the game in high-definition on the big screen.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY: To counter all the attention given to big chains on Black Friday, and to online retailers on Cyber Monday, supporters of local, independent merchants claimed the Saturday in between as a day of their own.
Last year, American Express spearheaded the first annual Small Business Saturday, which the credit card company says is designed to "call attention to the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country."
Independent retailers in Siouxland say they hope the designation reminds shoppers to support local business owners who provide jobs, pay taxes and and contribute to various charities and other community groups.
"A lot of us want to make people aware that spending locally with locally-owned businesses makes a big difference because all of that money stays in town and gets recirculated," said Kim Kletschke, who co-owner of Karlton's Clothiers & Tailors, a family-owned business at 515 Fourth St. in downtown Sioux City.