Shoppers Will Shop Earlier, Spend Less This Black Friday . / Credit: Retailer Image via Shutterstock

Shoppers will be starting earlier but spending less this Black Friday, new research has found. In a survey, 29 percent of the consumers planning to shop on Black Friday said they will be making their first purchase between midnight and 3 a.m., up from the 18 percent last year who started their holiday gift-buying in the wee hours of the day after Thanksgiving.

Overall, 45 percent of shoppers said they will brave the crowds for the deals being offered on Black Friday. However, shoppers plan to spend 25 percent less on average than during previous Black Fridays.  That is partly because so many people have already begun their holiday shopping this year.  Forty-three percent of the shoppers surveyed by American Express said they started their shopping before Halloween, up from 35 percent in 2011. 

“An earlier start to the shopping season, coupled with consumers’ expectation of better deals and offers, could explain the expected dip in average spending on Black Friday,” said Claire Bennett, American Express executive vice president of loyalty and membership benefits. “Retailers are starting their holiday season earlier and earlier, and consumers are welcoming the chance to shop deals well before the Thanksgiving weekend.”

Slower Black Friday sales will not dampen overall holiday shopping, though. This year shoppers plan to spend an average of $848 on gifts, compared with $831 last year. 

Consumers  also plan to continue their shopping in the days right after Black Friday. Sixty-seven percent of consumers said they will shop on Small Business Saturday, the next day of the Thanksgiving weekend. And 39 percent said they will be shopping this Cyber Monday.

The findings were based on the responses of 1,500 adults. The research is a part of the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.