Walmart, Target and Macy’s are just a handful of stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving night this year.

Black Friday 2011 is becoming Black Thursday as more and more stores open their doors earlier to attract shoppers. But will it generate more sales, or drive away customers?

Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, a marketing professor at Rutgers-Camden says the extra day could help the registers ring at many stores because cash-strapped consumers will have more time to shop.

“You have to look at the calendar for December, this year there are less weekends to shop so I’m not surprised that retailers are moving up Black Friday.”

The entire Black Friday shopping experience has changed over the years, said Scarborough. “Now consumers are more eager to get discounts and retailers are for the most part taking advantage.”

If you look at the whole experience now, the entire Christmas holiday has been inching up. “Its like Halloween was over and holiday songs started on the radio, even Santa is out already in most malls.”

But she says as the economy has slowed and consumer spending has declined, getting an early jump on Black Friday profits has become critical for many retailers. “I wouldn’t be shocked if spending held steady or there was a slight increase this year.”

Kaufman-Scarborough cautions that some consumers could be turned off that Thanksgiving is shifting into a shopping-spree instead of quality time with the family.