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Holiday Shopping – More Stores Open Early This Year

A growing number of stores plan to open on Thanksgiving day.  Their goal is to get an early start to the holiday shopping frenzy.

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Shoppers flocked to stores around Southern California Friday hoping to take advantage of “doorbuster” deals.


Shoppers fill a Walmart store, Lakewood, Nov. 28, 2013. (KTLA)

With a growing number of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day this year, many bargain hunters got an earlier start to the holiday shopping season.

Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Macy’s launched their Black Friday sales on Thursday evening.

Kmart opened even earlier, at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

Some mall managers said the earlier openings helped reduce the amount of frenzy they normally see on Black Friday.

Edward Larson, who manages a J.C. Penney in Great Falls, Mont., told CNN customers were “more purposeful and not as frenzied.”

Walmart and Target reported strong Thanksgiving traffic. Bill Simon, CEO of Walmart’s U.S. operations, said more than 22 million shoppers visited the company’s stores on Thursday and that problems were down from previous years.

As for Black Friday sales, Kohl’s reported a 258% increase over a regular day’s foot traffic, according to the popular mobile app Shopular.

“We’ve seen probably about a 20 percent increase in traffic for the Citadel outlets this year,” said Cynthia Schmitt Earls, spokeswoman for the shopping center in the city of Commerce.

JCPenney was up 240% nationwide and Walmart stores in California reported a 224% percent increase over their regular Friday foot traffic, Shopular said.

Tempers flared as a result of the larger crowds in some areas. A police officer in Rialto was injured Thursday night while attempting to break up a fight that reportedly began when someone tried to cut in front of a line of shoppers at a Walmart.

Forget about waking up at the crack of dawn to find a good deal on Black Friday.


Holiday shoppers look for deals at a Kmart store in Burbank, Nov. 28, 2013. (KTLA)

Some bargain hunters hit the stores at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day hoping to beat the crowds and to save a lot of dough.

Dozens of people could be seen roaming around a Kmart in Burbank, right after the store opened its doors at 6 a.m. on Thursday.

Fueled by fierce competition, a growing number of retailers planned to kick off the holiday shopping season on what they’re calling Gray Thursday, instead of waiting until Black Friday.

One store that refused to join the trend was Nordstrom.  The retailer has a longstanding tradition of remaining closed on Thanksgiving, and posted signs in it stores stating “we won’t be decking our hall until Friday, November 29.”

Below is a list of large retailers that are open on Thanksgiving:

  • J.C. Penney and Macy’s will both open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for a 25-hour overnight shopping marathon.
  • Sears stores will open starting at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day through 10 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • Kmart will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.
  • Toys R Us will open from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
  • Best Buy stores will at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open until 10 p.m. on Friday.
  • Wal-Mart will start to offer its holiday deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year.

When retailers opened on Thanksgiving last year, workers protested outside stores and holiday purists grumbled online — a distracting sideshow in what ultimately proved to be a less-than-robust sales season.

Black Friday shopping

Alicia Romero high-fives an employee at the Best Buy store in Lakewood when it opened at midnight Nov. 23, 2012. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)

Still, 35 million Americans showed up at shops and on websites, a 21% increase from the holiday turnout in 2011. This year, more retailers are planning to open on turkey day than ever before, and often much earlier than in past holidays.

But this time, they’re taking extra care to present themselves as appreciative of their employees and respectful of the holiday, although not everyone is buying it.

“Last year, employees could still eat with their families and get to work on time,” said Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group. “Now, retailers are opening up earlier and cutting into the dinner hour, so they have to go on a charm offensive.”

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While some bargain-focused consumers seem to celebrate the creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving Day, others revile it.


Nordstrom tweeted an image of this sign from one of its stores, stating the company’s locations will remain closed on Nov. 28, 2013.

Some retailers aren’t too fond of the trend either, apparently, and they’re proud to buck the tide.

In recent years, more and more chain stores began opening their doors on the national holiday, bringing in workers to kick off the Christmas shopping season while some families were still sitting down to turkey dinners.

The change prompted vigorous debate, with online petitions launched in hope of persuading retailers to respect Thanksgiving — and their employees — by remaining closed.

Kmart was the focus of anger after announcing it would open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving and remain open through Black Friday.

When Macy’s this year announced its first-ever Thanksgiving Day hours, the company seemed mildly defensive about joining a group that includes Best Buy, Target, Sears, Toys “R” Us, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s and Wal-Mart.

“In response to interest from customers who prefer to start their shopping early, most Macy’s stores will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, consistent with many other retailers,” the chain stated in an Oct. 14 news release. “In a move to minimize the impact on associates, Macy’s began planning early to allow associates the time to review available shifts throughout the holiday season, including on Thanksgiving weekend, and to volunteer for the shifts they prefer.”

Some observers of the market have said resistance to the Thanksgiving Day trend is futile, in large part because of the numbers: shoppers will come out and spend if stores are open.

Yet a few chains seem to be trumpeting their decision to stay shuttered.

This year, Nordstrom made a minor show out of its longstanding tradition of remaining closed on Thanksgiving, posting signs in it stores stating “we won’t be decking our hall until Friday, November 29.

“Why? We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time,” signs posted in some locations read.

The upscale department store tweeted an image of a one such sign.

Other stores with Southern California locations that planned to remain closed on Thanksgiving were Home Depot, Costco, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Ross, according to USA Today.

A spokeswoman for TJX, which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, told the newspaper that the company wants its workers to have holiday time with relatives.

“We feel so strongly about our employees spending Thanksgiving with their families,” spokeswoman Doreen Thompson said. “And we don’t anticipate this changing in the future.”

As the hardiest of shoppers prepare for the annual Black Friday consumption frenzy, many are convinced it’s their one shot at a great deal.


Shoppers line up outside Best Buy in Los Feliz on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, in advance of post-Thanksgiving shopping. (Credit: Liberte Chan)

But “that’s not even close to the truth,” said Matthew Ong, senior retail analyst at online personal finance company NerdWallet Inc.

Bargain hunters can — and, in some cases, should — avoid the Black Friday weekend crush, several experts said.

Many characterize the shopping bonanza as an expertly marketed ploy to capitalize on shoppers’ fear of missing out. By dangling a small batch of irresistible savings, stores land hordes of hopeful shoppers all scheming to score the retail version of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket.

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