For those looking to join the crowds for the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, there won’t be much time to digest on Thursday night.

Westfield Trumbull and many major retailers in town, like Best Buy, Kohl’s and Target, will be open for business earlier than ever this year — many at 5 and 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Last year, many retailers opened at 8 p.m., which was already earlier than usual.

With a large influx of people coming to town for the deals, Trumbull police will be out in force.

“We put additional personnel on the road and many of the stores hire special duty officers,” Trumbull police Deputy Chief Glenn Byrnes said.

Major retailers hire off-duty Trumbull officers to provide added security, Byrnes said.

With the Black Friday hours seeping into Thanksgiving, things have changed a bit, according to the deputy chief.

“We used to have people lining up Thanksgiving night to get into stores that were opening at 4 or 5 a.m.,” he said. “Now things slow down a bit by midnight, until Friday morning.”

In general, Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is the busiest time of year for Trumbull police.

“We have to pay additional attention to our retail areas with the influx of people,” he said.

Being prepared

Best Buy will be one of the first to open on Thanksgiving, at 5 p.m., and will stay open until 1 a.m.

Kohl’s and Target will be opening at 6 p.m.

Paul Sabina of Westfield Trumbull said the mall will be open from 6 p.m. to midnight, and will close from midnight to 6 a.m., before reopening for Black Friday shoppers.

“Select stores will remain open from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m.,” Sabina said. “We recommend customers contact stores individually to confirm their operating hours.”

Sabina also gave some tips on how Westfield shoppers can get the most out of their Black Friday experience:

• Research before you go. Many retailers announce their Black Friday sales and offers ahead of time. You can sign up for email alerts at Westfield.com, visit our Westfield “offers” website page, and follow our social media accounts — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — to stay on top of the deals as the offers are announced.

• Use technology. Customers can download Westfield’s shopping app for iPhone or Android to find deals, store locations, restaurants, and restrooms all at once.

• Prioritize your list. If there’s one must-have item on your shopping list and it’s going to be a hot deal, look for that item first.

Westfield said it will also be working to spread holiday joy, through the Westfield Merry Makers. Merry Makers will surprise shoppers with unexpected acts of kindness beginning on Black Friday and continuing through Christmas. Merry Makers will roam the center offering services such as carrying shopping bags, giving away retailer gift cards and samples, and even purchasing gifts for unsuspecting customers. The Merry Makers will also come together throughout the day for special holiday song and dance performances.

“We want to embody the holiday spirit by creating magical moments for our shoppers when they least expect it,” Sabina said. “After all, spreading joy is what the holiday season is all about, and our goal is to make shopping during the holidays as convenient and enjoyable as possible.