How to Ruin Thanksgiving, an Hour-by-Hour Guide for Shoppers

This year, in a shortened, especially desperate season for retailers, stores are giving shoppers reason to desert their families on Thanksgiving before dessert is served.

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Walmart and Toys R Us recently announced their fairly unsurprising plans to launch holiday sales starting in the early evening of Thanksgiving. A year ago, these retailers launched deals starting at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. This year, in a shortened, especially desperate season for retailers, stores are giving shoppers more reason to desert their families on Thanksgiving before dessert is served.

“Doorbusters” will be available starting at 5 p.m. at Toys R Us, and the deals at Walmart kick off at 6 p.m., thereby stealing the crazed consumerism thunder from Target, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, and other retailers that are waiting until 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving to open doors to the masses. Many retailers and malls will stay open through the night, with some hosting absurdly long shopping marathons lasting 29 hours (at a mall in Florida), up to 41 hours (at Kmart). There will of course be more deals starting early the morning of Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving, which used to kick off the holiday shopping season but now almost feels like an afterthought due to the rise of Thanksgiving Day shopping.

Imagine this: For the first time in recent memory, it might actually make sense to hit Walmart or Target at 4 a.m. on Black Friday. After all, there should be good deals, and the crowds are likely to be much smaller compared to the night before.

(MORE: Hey Thanksgiving Shoppers! Macy’s Isn’t the Only One to Blame for Ruining the Holiday)

In any event, for those who are looking for deals and/or looking to see as little of their families as possible on Thanksgiving, here’s a rundown of when major retailers are set to open on Turkey Day:

6 A.M.
Kmart, which rolled out holiday commercials in early September, again pushes the bounds of acceptable retailer behavior with Thanksgiving hours beginning at 6 a.m. Stores will remain open for 41 hours in a row, closing mercifully at 11 p.m. on Black Friday. It’s an arrangement that works out especially well “for shoppers who hate their families,” as the Consumerist aptly put it.

Interestingly, while most retailers have gone public with the details of particular deals and promotions kicking off on Thanksgiving, Kmart has thus far kept quiet about such specifics. The company press release just states that “customers can shop Black Friday deals from Kmart for 41 hours straight,” but it’s unclear what kind of prices shoppers will encounter during the hours normally reserved for eating turkey and catching up with family. According to one leaked copy of Kmart’s Black Friday ad, many of the store’s deals actually won’t be available until 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.

9 A.M.
Some 900 Old Navy stores will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and then most will later reopen at 7 p.m. that night. Doors won’t close until midnight on Black Friday, “giving shoppers 29 hours to find what they need for everyone on their gift list,” the company press release states. Not mentioned in the press release is that shoppers will also have more than three deal-crazed weeks after Black Friday to buy gifts for the holidays.

(MORE: 5 Signs This Holiday Season Is the Most Competitive, Desperate Ever for Retailers)

5 P.M.
About the time those Old Navy stores close for Thanksgiving intermission, shoppers who don’t want to go home will be heading over to line up for the 5 p.m. opening of Toys R Us. “The company is offering more than 300 doorbuster values, while supplies last,” a carefully worded statement explains.

Also, during any in-store shopping lulls throughout the day, consumers should know that bajillions of online deals are a click or swipe away. In fact, deal experts say that the majority of goods on sale over Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend are available at the same price or cheaper online.

6 P.M.
This is the official starting time for Best Buy and Walmart Black Friday deals, but in all likelihood shoppers will have to be waiting in line before then if they’re hoping to snag the best deals. According to Walmart’s “One-Hour Guarantee,” which assures customers will get their goods if they spend a decent chunk of Thanksgiving Day standing in a crowded queue, “Customers who are in the designated lines at Walmart between 6 and 7 p.m. or 8 and 9 p.m. local time on Thursday, Nov. 28 can purchase top gifts at special low prices with confidence that they’ll receive the item either that night or before Christmas.”

Many shopping centers, including one mall in South Florida and dozens of outlet malls around the country will also open doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

7 P.M.
Time to head back to Old Navy for its reopening. Also, shoppers can revisit Kmart and perhaps realize that the stuff they bought earlier in the day is now available for cheaper prices, what with new “Black Friday” rates taking effect.

(MORE: Why Holiday Season ‘Self-Gifting’ Is Such a Huge Retail Trend)

8 P.M.
It’s finally opening time for all sorts of national retailers, including Bon Ton, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, OfficeMax, Sears, and Target. Come on, what are you guys waiting for? People have shopping to do and awkward conversations around the dinner table to avoid!

Typically, retailers are staggering their best deals, with new special, limited-supply offers introduced every couple of hours—giving shoppers reason to stick around until midnight and beyond.