Losing Thanksgiving

Black Friday eats up more of the Thursday holiday
Associated Press
Nov 13, 2013

Last Thanksgiving Day, Kimberly Mudge Via's mother, sister and nieces left in the middle of their meals to head for the mall.

Now, Via says she'll never host Thanksgiving dinner for her relatives again.

"They barely finished," says the 28-year-old who lives in Boone, N.C. "They thanked me and left their plates on the counter."

That scene could become more common in homes across the country. Black Friday shopping, the annual rite of passage on the day after Thanksgiving, continues to creep further into the holiday as more stores open their doors a day early.

It's a break with tradition. Black Friday, which typically is the year's biggest shopping day, for a decade has been considered the official start to the busy holiday buying season. Stores open in the wee hours of the morning with special deals called doorbusters and stay open late into the evening. Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and Christmas remained the only two days a year that stores were closed.

Now Thanksgiving is slowly becoming just another shopping day. Over the past few years, major retailers, including Target and Toys R Us, slowly have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night to one-up each other and compete for holiday dollars. Some initially resisted, saying that they wanted their employees to be able to spend time with their families.

This year, more than a dozen major retailers are opening on Thanksgiving, including a handful like Macy's, J.C. Penney and Staples that are doing it for the first time. The Gap, which operates its Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic, is opening half of its stores on Thanksgiving morning.

Roger Beahm, professor of marketing at the Wake Forest University School of Business in Winston-Salem, N.C., expects that it's just a matter of time — he estimates five years — before most chains open all day on Thanksgiving. As for Christmas, he says that day is still sacred among shoppers.

"The floodgates have opened," Beahm says. "People will turn Thanksgiving Day shopping into a tradition as they historically have on the day after Thanksgiving ... And stores don't want to be left behind."

Indeed, retailers say they're just doing what shoppers want. And they know that opening earlier gives them a chance to be the first to grab shoppers' dollars. That's an important opportunity for chains, which can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue during the last two months of the year.

But so far, it's unclear whether opening on Thanksgiving boosts retailers' top line or simply pushes forward sales from Friday. Last year, it was the latter: Sales on Thanksgiving were $810 million last year, an increase of 55 percent from the previous year as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak.

But business dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year. That day accounted for about 4.3 percent of holiday sales last year.

"Customers clearly showed that they wanted to be out shopping much earlier on Thanksgiving," Amy von Walter, a spokeswoman for Best Buy, which moved up its opening this year to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving from midnight on Black Friday in 2012. "Our plan this holiday is a direct result of that feedback."

To be sure, the issue is divisive among shoppers. Some believe that the holiday should remain sacred and that store employees should not have to work. Some even have threatened on retailers' Facebook pages that they will boycott stores that open on Thanksgiving.

Jennifer Gillis, 49, refused to shop during the holidays at Sears and Kmart last year because she believes Thanksgiving should not be commercialized. This year, she's adding Macy's to the list.

"I think it's turning into a day of greed — for shoppers and stores," Gillis, who lives in Hawaii, says.

Given the controversy, opening on Thanksgiving can be a difficult decision for retailers to make.

For instance, last year, Macy's and J.C. Penney didn't open on Thanksgiving evening as competitors did. Both chains say they wanted to honor their workers' time with their families. But this year, they changed their tune.

Tony Bartlett, executive vice president of Penney's stores, says the company decided to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year because of customer feedback. He also says Penney store employees wanted to open on Thanksgiving so they could get the chance to better compete with rivals.

"Obviously, we were one of the last to open," last year, says Bartlett, referring to the chain's 6 a.m. opening in 2012. But he says this year, "We're all in."

Not every store is opening on turkey day, though. A couple of retailers even put out statements specifically noting that they won't be opening on Thanksgiving so that their employees won't have to work.

"We believe it is important for our team members to be able to spend this time with their loved ones," Travis Smith, CEO and president of Jo Ann Fabric and Craft Stores, says in a statement. The retailer plans to open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

B.J.'s Wholesale Club also says it will not open on Thanksgiving. "Once again, BJ's is bucking the trend of putting sales on Thanksgiving above family time," BJ's says in a statement in which it announced that it would open stores at 7 a.m. on Black Friday.

Comments

Kelly

So eat early. We've always eaten at 11 even before Black Friday was a big deal. I can't wait to shop on Thanksgiving this year.

Tiredofthe BS

Not all families have that option! When people b!t@h and complain where our family values are going blame people like yourself who don’t care about the grander scheme of things or anyone else! The people who are forced to work holidays where there is no life or death is ridiculous!

Kelly

LOL

Dont Worry Be Happy

I agree with Tiredofthe BS. There is no family any more. I will not be one of those Thanksgiving shoppers.

Stop It

You are the reason that Walmart is open 24/7/365?

Yep.

ladydye_5

Heck, the decorations are out, the music is on, the commercials are on playing TV. There is NO Thanksgiving anymore. I am ready to completely BOYCOTT Christmas all together. It is only the 13th of November and I already SICK of Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving? It is only a day of the week for the START of a sale. I am not even sure if it IS a holiday anymore.

Stop It

I have boycotted christmas for 6 years now. It's frivolous and many overspend and return goods after. What's the point?

bikerwife

Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks for all that you have..NOT for all that you can buy.. People need to start remembering the true meaning of holidays..There's way too much greed in this world..

Eph 2 8-10

GREED

LadyC

Ridiculous. They ought to make it an online shopping day instead, so people could still buy things for sale prices while being home and letting already low-paid WORKERS have at least a day off with their families. You can bet most of them don't get any of the benefits of the increased sales, not even overtime pay.

Stop It

Eefff Christmas...It's all about the $$$. It lasts from just before Halloween till Valentine's day.

Tiredofthe BS

Try and spend money at the shops where they won't be open...they may eventually get it.

Centauri

I found these Hitler Parodies about Black Friday and wanted to share. It is my belief that laughter is good for health and helps neutralize the negative effects of stress.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J...
"Hitler Wants To Shop On Black Friday"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y...
"Hitler's Black Friday Plans go Awry"

http://tinyurl.com/optwqj9

I tried Black Friday once but never again. Is is worth wasting hours in line, freezing and not getting what you want? If you are patient and stay home with family, the items that you wanted will go on sale for much less than Black Friday deals. You can also buy Black Friday items online.

If you enjoy standing in line for Black Friday specials, then go for it. Many people crowd into Times Square for New Year's Eve. To each their own.

44846GWP

I have seen signs at McDonalds they will be open Thanksgiving and Chrstmas Day! I can't see one reason anybody NEEDS a burger and fries on those days! Insane.

Pterocarya frax...

The hero of some of you conservatives, Sarah Palin, told Matt Lauer a couple days ago:

“I love the commercialization of Christmas, because it spreads the Christmas cheer.”

She said that on the Today show while she was there to promote her new book "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas".

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. So right wingers, there is your hypocrisy of the day.

Stop It

Sarah Palin is still in the limelight to make people think there is a difference between left and right/ demo and repub.

Pterocarya frax...

In spite of yours and others best efforts to convince otherwise, there is a huge difference between the 2 parties, and I offer Sarah Palin as irrefutable proof.

Kelly

I worked retail for years and loved the middle of the night crowds. It was fun and we got extra pay. 99% of the people were in good moods, too. I go out out every year and have never seen the pushing and fighting the news always talks about. Usually, people are laughing and having a good time. We sang Christmas carols at Toys R Us.

LadyC

Except now it isn't the middle of the night any more. They are starting sales Thanksgiving Day in the afternoon. That is the issue, not Black Friday itself. They seem to feel the need to extend it and push out Thanksgiving. And I'll bet there isn't extra pay involved anymore. It should be voluntary if they insist on opening that early. And if nobody wants to work it, stay closed.

Kelly

LOL I know many, many people who want to work it and they ARE getting extra pay. Kmart & Meijer have always been open. The movie theaters have always been open. Why is it suddenly a big deal?

LadyC

Because it isn't a holiday anymore if it is just one big retail extravaganza. A lot of us have elderly parents and grandparents that like a traditional family gathering, and sometimes it is one of the only times they all get together, eat, talk, sip a few, whatever. And people don't want it cut short by having to rush to a minimum paying job to get trampled or deal with traffic or any of the other crap. It doesn't need to start in the middle of Thanksgiving Day.

Stop It

^+1^