Buffalo, NY (WBEN) A number of big box retailers will open their doors a few hours after we've gobbled up turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. But will this mean trouble for the retailers looking for the jump on holiday sales?
Steve Bell, Director of Public Affairs for Eric Mower and Associates, says the decision wasn't made lightly.
Target Corp. will open its doors at 9:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than a year ago, to kick off the holiday shopping season.
The discounter joins several other major retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., that are opening earlier in the evening on the holiday and staggering deals over the two-day period.
"We thought long and hard about when the right opening time would be," said Kathee Tesija, Target's executive vice president of merchandising. She said that 9:00 p.m. struck "a perfect balance" for its customers.
Wal-Mart said last week it will begin its holiday sale at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year. It then will have two more rounds of sales events including a 10:00 p.m. sale on electronics and another sale at 5:00 a.m. the next day.
Sears Holdings Corp. said its Sears stores will open at 8:00 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and will stay open overnight until 10 p.m. Friday. Last year Sears stores were closed on Thanksgiving. The company's Kmart stores have been open on Thanksgiving for years.
Lord & Taylor, which was closed on Thanksgiving last year, will be open on the holiday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Kohl's Corp. and Macy's Inc. will again throw open their doors at midnight, following Thanksgiving. J.C. Penney plans to announce its Black Friday promotions on Monday.
"Retailers are pretty confident this will result in more sales, not more consternation or more anger." he says
Once again this year, there are several national online petitions from workers who feel that the earlier hours aren't right,
Casey St. Clair, a Corona-California Target employee, started one of the petitions, and writes online at change.org. :
"I am a recent transplant to California with my boyfriend. I don't have any family out here and having to work on Black Friday prevents me from going home to the East Coast to see my family. .... I currently work two jobs, substitute teach and work Target at nights and weekends, so having Thanksgiving off really does give me that one day to relax and visit family I otherwise have no time to see.
UB Student Rebecca Bratek has worked retail on black Friday for several years, and recently wrote of how crazed the holiday shoppers can get, in a peice for the UB Spectrum newspaper.
She admits that being an employee means submitting to assigned hours, but she is disturbed by the escalation of it all.
" Being a college student it is one of the only jobs I can get. I did chose to have the jobs I have, but during the holiday season, why does it have to be so much more," she says.
Bell believes the backlash coming from employees was countered well by Target. "Target was taking voluntary employees and paying them overtime, so it wasn't like the entirely company was being forced to work," notes Bell.
Bell thinks big box retailers should not be singled out for having employees workon a holiday.
"I don't want to a say nothing's sacred, but we watch football on Thanksgiving, we can go to a grocery store that's open 24/7 on Thanksgiving. I don't think it's fair to single out big box retailers for trying to bring in additional sales in a highly competitive industry," says Bell.
It's also a part of a growing trend. "We're seeing a change in society where we're listening to Christmas music earlier, and are being told to shop for the hoildays earlier," he adds.
And Bell says big box retailers are facing competition not just from each other, but online. He cites a Nasdaq survey which says 79 percent of women were shopping in a big box store while 75 percent would shop online.
"About seven percent of all sales in 2012 will be online, but 16 percent of holiday sales will be online," adds Bell.