By tradition, Thanksgiving is a day of rest. But while you might have the day off from work, retailers hope that you don’t take the day off as a consumer. As more and more stores are open for business on the holiday—and with online shopping possible 24/7 and special deals for Internet shoppers this Thursday—the day dedicated to giving thanks seems to be turning into just another day to shop. Increasingly, indulging on Thanksgiving Day involves not only too much turkey with extra gravy, but also a trip to the mall.
By tradition, the big shopping day known as Black Friday comes the day after Thanksgiving. Now, however, retailers have heralded Black Friday-type doorbusters and specials for weeks, resulting in Black Friday overload. Having been burned in the past by deals and specials that weren’t all that special, consumers have little reason to believe that they’ll actually find the best prices on Black Friday or any particular day. Consumers are confused and sick of the hype, and it looks like they’re just not buying into Black Friday like they did not long ago.
“Consumers have been trained in the last holiday season that there are a lot of sales and Black Friday isn’t their only opportunity to get bargains,” said Greg Daugherty, executive editor of Consumer Reports magazine. “What some people are telling us is they’re going to sit it out this year.”
The Sun also cites a survey revealing a “rise in consumer apathy” toward Black Friday. And why wouldn’t there be? When you start hearing about Black Friday deals beginning in July, it’s hard to get worked up when the actual day finally rolls around a few months later.
It’s also hard to get worked up when the day is built mostly on a myth: Despite what you hear, Black Friday, in fact, is not the biggest shopping day of year. That title belongs to the Saturday before Christmas. (Read more (Black Friday myths at dealnews.) A Consumer Reports poll has it that less than one-quarter of shoppers will bother fighting the crowds on Black Friday.
So apparently, consumers aren’t buying into the hype of Black Friday like they have in seasons past. What are retailers doing to fight the Black Friday malaise? Instead of offering a single “Black” monster shopping day, they’re offering several—heck, several weeks worth of them. It’s “deals, deals, deals” all the time. The entire holiday season is blackened.
And increasingly, that includes Thanksgiving Day itself.
The WSJ rounds up some of the many retailers open for business on Thanksgiving, including:
For the first time, Sears is opening on Thursday, from 7 a.m. until noon, finally joining the long tradition of Sears Holdings Corp.’s Kmart division, which has opened on Thanksgiving for 19 years. This year, Kmart is allowing shoppers to buy online and pick up their purchases at stores on Thanksgiving. Kmart’s hours are longer, from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Both stores plan to offer discount deals on Thursday and Black Friday.
Several stores, including Sports Authority Inc. and Big Lots Inc., have been open on Thanksgiving for several years. Simon Group Inc.’s Premium Outlet malls in tourist locations such as Las Vegas, Hawaii and Orlando also have opened on Thanksgiving.
About 90% of Gap stores will be open on Thanksgiving, and retailers such as Toys R Us will open on Thanksgiving night.
Who actually goes shopping on Thanksgiving? It’s not necessarily parents who are desperate to get their kids the must-have toy. (Is there a must-have toy this year?) The WSJ reports that, based on last year, the largest age group to hit the mall on Turkey Day is 18- to 34-year-olds.
I can see that. This is the group most likely to want to snub their noses at tradition—or just to not care all that much one way or the other, or just to really want to buy stuff when they want to, no matter what the day or who the Detroit Lions are playing on TV. Or just to want to get away from a crowded house filled their dysfunctional families on Thanksgiving. Shopping has always been a means of escape, I suppose.
If you can’t be enticed out into the cold on Thanksgiving Day itself, retailers are hoping you still keep your credit card handy. As the NY Times reports—and this both sours the concept of Thanksgiving as a non-commercial event and also indicates there ain’t much reason to go shopping on Black Friday itself—tons of retailers are offering online shopping deals starting on Turkey Day:
The Web deals are wide-ranging. Walmart.com is offering discounts of up to 40 percent on almost 150 items, triple the number of specials in 2009. At Radio Shack, Best Buy, Macy’s and J. C. Penney, almost every Black Friday deal can be had online starting on Thursday. Even Web-only merchants like Amazon.com are offering steep discounts that day.
Considering that many retailers are also one-upping each other with free shipping offers, the stores are certainly trying to cover all bases: If you can’t be talked into shopping on Black Friday, then maybe you’ll shop on Thanksgiving, or online, or on any number of other Black Friday-esque days. Or shop during all of the above possibilities. Just shop already, would you!
Oh, and after the holidays are over, could you shop some more? There will be deals, of course, perhaps even during special events such as Black Groundhog Day.