Thanksgiving is fast approaching. What used to be a traditional day of turkeys, stuffing, gravy and football is now a day of dashing to the mall for holiday shopping. As retailers urge consumers into earlier and earlier Christmas shopping, stores are now taking advantage of the after turkey time to get shoppers into the stores by advertising Black Friday type deals on Thanksgiving.
On Monday, Walmart threw its name in the ring of retail competitors vying for Thanksgiving Day shoppers by announcing it would begin its bargain-hunting blitz on Thursday evening. Walmart is the latest of the major retailers to announce the stores will be open Thanksgiving evening, right behind Target, Best Buy and Macy’s. Walmart announced two special events, one at 6 p.m. followed by another at 8 p.m. Experts agree the deals are extraordinary with more products available to lure customers into the stores on Thursday.
A late Thanksgiving holiday, (Thanksgiving falls on the 29th this year), a government shutdown and increased prices for health insurance have left consumers hesitant about the upcoming shopping season. Retailers are anxious to get consumers in the stores as soon as possible. Last year, Sears, Target, Best Buy and Macy’s were open on Thanksgiving Day and plan on being open again this year.
For die hard Black Friday shoppers, exclusive sales will still be held, including “manager’s specials” discounts on high-demand items, but if you want the best deals, better get the dishes done and head to the stores for some after dinner deals. Online shoppers are also getting some great deals early Thursday morning.
Brad Wilson, founder of BradsDeals.com stated, “We saw even in the last two years, when stores were opening Thursday, they weren’t necessarily kicking off their promotions on Thursday, the best deals wouldn’t necessarily start at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. This really shifts the focus.”
As the focus shifts, so do the crowds; the days of campers waiting outside major retail stores for Black Friday deals may be a thing of the past as more shoppers begin their holiday shopping a day early, stated analysts. Stores are staggering their opening times, Toys R Us will open at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, Best Buy will open at 6 p.m. and Target at 8 p.m. allowing shoppers to hit all the big sales.
Three years ago, struggling retailers started opening on Thanksgiving in a desperate attempt to tap into the huge Black Friday profits and the results were significant enough to encourage other retailers to follow suit.
But not everyone thinks Thanksgiving Day deals are a good thing reporting them to be a ‘social blunder’.
Assistant professor of marketing at Virginia Commonwealth University’s business school, Jodie Ferguson, warned retailers to pursue the Thanksgiving Day sales with caution because consumers have easy access to social media and will quickly post their displeasure if they feel slighted.
“In the past, brick-and-mortar stores had stayed away from opening during the day,” she said, “If retailers engage in a practice that’s not common, consumers might deem that action as unfair.”
Some consumers agree, stating they feel it is unfair to offer deals during the holiday forcing consumers to decide between time with family and saving money during tough economic times.
“I don’t think it’s fair for the retailers to put loyal customers in this position,” stated MaryAnn Babcock of Brunswick, Georgia. “It’s been a tradition for years that first thing in the morning, my husband rushes out to buy a newspaper while I start on dinner. Later that evening after we have eaten, we settle down as a family and go through the ads. We make a ‘game plan’ for the next morning based on what we want, when the stores and the best deals. While times are tough and I depend on getting good deals so my holiday dollar goes a long way, I’m not cutting into my Thanksgiving tradition just because stores want to make more money. I’ll stop shopping on Black Friday altogether and just shop online on Cyber Monday. I’m really disappointed the retailers are putting people in this position.”
Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church agrees, stating the “avalanche” of stores that are opening on Thanksgiving Day should not be patronized.
“Can you keep just one day a year for family?” stated Warren.
As sales creep into Thanksgiving Day, more and more employees are forced to work instead of spending time with family. Concerns have been raised that Christmas might be next.
By Deborah Baran