MANATEE -- The streets will still be dark, the air crisp and most office complexes closed for the holiday weekend.
But thousands of discount-craved consumers -- still gorged from turkey -- will stand in lines that wrap around the area's biggest retailers late Thursday or in the wee hours of Friday morning to gobble up discounts that only come around once a year.
Buyers beware: The madness of Black Friday is less than 48 hours away -- and spilling into Thursday.
Stores have spent months preparing for the shopping spectacle that can single-handedly make or break fourth-quarter sales.
Eager shoppers, armed with advertisement circulars, have plotted their day in an effort to come home with the bonanza's biggest bounty. Some have already begun camping out at stores like the Best Buy in St. Petersburg.
The cries from retail workers, dreading the day's hassle, can be heard across Manatee County -- all in the name of that $200 big-screen TV.
"People get excited," said Bill Webster, director of public and government affairs for Bealls. "It's the official launch of the Christmas season. It just becomes part of the holiday itself."
In Manatee County, there's a few major shopping hubs to hit -- or avoid -- depending on your vantage point.
Bradenton Black Friday Tweets Tweets about "#BradentonBlackFriday"
Maybe the most popular Black Friday destination in the region is the Ellenton Premium Outlets, an open-air discount mall where many stores will welcome holiday shoppers as early as 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Another busy retail corridor hugs the county border in South Manatee. University Parkway, soon to be home to the largest luxury shopping mall between Tampa and Fort Myers, already has become a big-box aisle for the dozens of major retailers now anchored there.
DeSoto Square, which remains Manatee's only true indoor shopping mall, is sure to be busy. The same can be said for both Westfield centers in Sarasota.
Each of those retailers will vie for their share of revenue with door-busters, prizes, early bird specials and bonus sales that can make even the tamest shopping lovers giddy with savings.
And as has been the trend in years past, the Black Friday deals this week will keep a heavy emphasis on electronics. Offers range from a 40-inch 1080p Toshiba TV at Best Buy for $179.99 to an $89 Nintendo Wii console at Walmart and an Asus laptop computer with a 14-inch screen at Sears for $219.99.
At Bradenton-based Bealls, the retailer has planned a number of Internet deals, downloadable coupons that can be used in the store or online, and will offer 60 percent off items already marked as clearance at its Florida outlet centers.
The first 100 consumers in line at the Bealls department stores this year will receive a scratch-off ticket with prizes ranging from an iPad to a $100 gift card or various amounts of Bealls' bucks.
Many retailers, like Walmart, begin planning their Black Friday sale a year in advance -- from the door-buster items to the prices and even store layout.
"Black Friday is the Super Bowl for retail," Walmart spokeswoman Veronica Marshall said. "With the products we purchased, and offers we have, we're expecting to win. From the checkout line to our Facebook page, consumers told us they want to get in earlier and stay later."
But the earlier start to some of those specials, along with a growing Cyber Monday -- Black Friday's online counterpart -- have eroded the importance of early morning Black Friday revenues.
The big sale also doesn't always equate to a big holiday season.
Although Black Friday sales shattered previous records last year, the numbers gave way to a much smaller gain in overall holiday sales. This has been the case for the past several years, and University of Central Florida Economist Sean Snaith predicts this will likely happen again this year.
In fact, the long lines that are beginning to form now could be a sign that consumers are budget constrained, and trying to spread their holiday dollar as far as possible, Snaith said.
"There's some asymmetry here," he said.
"If Black Friday were to come and there weren't long lines and people weren't filling up shopping carts, that would be a pretty bad sign. But just because they're doing that, doesn't mean it will be a good season."
Josh Salman, Herald business writer, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @JoshSalman.