Black Friday gets an earlier start this year
Anticipated shopping rush now begins on Thanksgiving Day.
Bethany Clough / The Fresno Bee
No more getting up early for Black Friday deals.
This year, shoppers can just stay up late as major retailers move their opening times to midnight and before.
Target, Macy’s, Best Buy and Kohl’s will all open at midnight, with Walmart and the Preferred Outlets at Tulare kicking things off at 10 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s not as though they necessarily want to be open those hours, as much as they feel they competitively have to,” said Phoenix-based retail consultant Jeff Green. “They’re all going after a reduced dollar amount. They’re trying to one-up their competitors.”
The earlier-than-ever openings have spawned a backlash, as retail employees complain about lost time with their families Thanksgiving Day. Online petitions have gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures in protest.
But plenty of people are excited for Black Friday deals, shopping for $9 blenders and $65 Justin Bieber fragrance gift sets this year. Up to 152 million people nationwide are expected to shop this weekend, compared to 138 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Black Friday is expected to be the top-performing shopping day during the holiday season for sales and foot traffic this year, according to Chicago-based ShopperTrak research firm.
Retailers are aggressively wooing Black Friday shoppers, particularly this year when holiday sales are expected to rise 2.8%, significantly less than last year’s 5.2% increase, according to the NRF.
Although sales will be big throughout the season, retailers have mastered stocking just the right amount of merchandise, meaning they won’t desperately slash prices later in the season.
Shoppers want the earlier opening times, said Patty Rocha, general manager of the Tulare outlets. The outlet center has opened at midnight for the last four years and will open two hours earlier this year.
“We had many, many requests” for earlier openings, she said. “It’s become a family tradition. It’s amazing how many families come out here year after year.”
She expects about 50,000 people will visit the center between 10 p.m. Thursday and 6 a.m. Friday, with some customers lining up at 7 or 8 p.m. Thursday.
While Fashion Fair mall has opened at midnight for years, many large retailers are opening at midnight for the first time.
Last year, Macy’s and Target opened at 4 a.m., and Best Buy opened at 5 a.m. All will open at midnight this year.
Some stores will be open most of Thanksgiving Day.
Big Lots will open at 6 a.m. Thursday, as it has for the last nine years. The store typically gets a surge of customers that morning who realize they need to buy extra plates and silverware, folding tables, even recliners, said Big Lots spokeswoman Toni Fink.
Walmart will be open Thanksgiving Day at its regular time, 7 a.m. The store is having Black Friday sales beginning at 10 p.m. for toys and apparel, another sale at midnight for electronics and a third at 8 a.m. for more deals.
Those early hours have some employees fuming.
Reporting to work at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day ruins what is supposed to be a day spent with family, said Anthony Hardwick, who works part-time corralling carts at a Target store in Omaha.
He started an online petition against Target Corp.’s plan to open at midnight on Black Friday. A Target employee hand-delivered the petition with 190,000 signatures in three plastic Target shopping bags Monday.
“The folks that work at Target are going to be working all night overnight on one of the most hectic retail days of the holidays,” Hardwick said. “They need to be well-rested for that, so they have to miss out on Thanksgiving if they’re going to be working overnight.”
Other movements have taken off with the help of social media, such as the “Respect the Bird” movement asking people to “join the fight to take back Thanksgiving” by taking an online pledge.
Still, plenty will shop. And most won’t be looking for gifts. About 90% of shoppers will look for items for themselves or their families, such as a new pair of boots or a new TV, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.