PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 165 million people are expected to shop from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The long weekend will be critical for retailers in a shortened holiday shopping season. Diane McCrohan of Johnson and Wales University said the window of just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas — the shortest holiday shopping season in six years — has the potential to impact sales.

“Retailers are nervous because we lose six days — we lose one shopping weekend,” McCrohan said.

That’s why you’ve probably already noticed deep discounts in stores and online. But that’s not the only way retailers are competing for your business.

“They’re going to offer wine and cheese if you’re coming in, or they’re going to have cookies or they’re going to have Santa Claus,” McCrohan said. “They’re going to do something to make you want to come to the store and shop in the brick and mortar store.”

Despite the quick turnaround between Thanksgiving and Christmas, retailers are expecting to make more money this holiday season than they did last year.

Holiday sales for November and December will top $728 billion, up about 4% from last year, according to NRF. Experts say the big winners will be Amazon and Walmart, leaving small businesses scrambling for your spending.

Mark Hayward, the district director from the U.S. Small Business Administration said there are 101,000 small businesses in Rhode Island depending on holiday shoppers.

“I think everyone is concerned about that shortened window,” Hayward said. “But everybody realizes that that’s the time that they can actually go from the red to the black.”

“What you can actually see on the big box stores, you can buy in a small business,” he added. “Invest time in yourself and your community to go out and to see whether you can find that product locally.”

The average consumer will spend $1,047 this holiday season, according to NRF.

Susan Campbell ( is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.