Some say shopping on Thanksgiving Day takes away from family time

akelley@thesunnews.comNovember 24, 2013 

  • If you shop

    •  Best Buy | open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Friday

    •  J.C. Penney | open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 9 p.m. on Friday

    •  Kohl’s | open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until midnight on Saturday

    •  Sears | open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Friday

    •  Kmart | open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving until 11 p.m. on Friday

    •  Target | open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 11 p.m. on Friday

    •  Toys R Us | open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Friday

    •  Wal-Mart | open 24 hours at most stores

— Major retailers are opening earlier than ever before with big deals this holiday season, but not all shoppers are happy about it.

Carol Morgano is one Myrtle Beach resident who won’t be shopping Thanksgiving Day.

“It’s a family holiday,” she said. “It should be for families, not for the stores to make money.”

Morgano, who shopped Black Friday once several years ago to buy a discounted Christmas tree, said the deep discounts probably aren’t worth the lost family time.

Deals usually reserved for Black Friday started creeping into the holiday in 2010 with stores opening late on Thanksgiving Day, but now many more major retailers have joined the list.

J.C. Penney, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Target, Wal-Mart and Sears have announced plans to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Toys R Us will open at 5 p.m. and Best Buy will open unlock their doors at 6 p.m. Kmart will open at 6 a.m. on Turkey Day.

Along the Grand Strand, some shopping centers also are getting a start on Thanksgiving. Tanger Outlets will again open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving this year, as it has done the past couple of years. Some stores in Coastal Grand mall will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving, though not all of them will. That’s earlier than the midnight Friday start at the mall last year.

“We think it is right at when customers are thinking about their shopping time,” said Nick Barrett, general manager of the two area Tanger Outlets. “Everyone recognizes it’s a great opportunity to give people what they are looking for.”

The National Retail Foundation said 28 percent of people shopping the weekend following Thanksgiving were at stores by midnight on Turkey Day in 2012, a rise from 24 percent in 2011 and 10 percent in 2010.

Part of that, the NRF said, is because more companies are open on Thanksgiving. The other side is that people would prefer shopping at night over braving the cold of the predawn.

Mary Hughey, manager at the J.C. Penney inside Coastal Grand mall, expects the busiest hours to shift with the holiday opening. She said the peak traffic will likely be from 8 p.m. to midnight Thursday, then again starting at 4 a.m. Friday when the Disney snow globes are given out.

The earlier openings mean retail workers across the country will be working Thanksgiving evening, an idea that prompted more than 32,000 people to “like” the Facebook page “Say no to shopping on Thanksgiving.” The page is designed to encourage people stay home on Thanksgiving and “show retailers you care more for family and friends.”

Another Facebook page, called “Thanksgiving Comes First,” has a smaller following with 753 likes, but the message is similar. That group suggests supporting companies that won’t be open on Thanksgiving Day and wants to see retail workers be able to spend the holiday with their family.

Holly Dawson, who lives in Myrtle Beach, agrees with those groups.

“There is no need to be open on Thanksgiving,” she said. “I used to love Black Friday shopping. Got up early, got great deals. Now it’s ridiculous. It ruins the days for families.”

Morgano said store employees deserve to spend that time with families, too.

“They’re calling it Black Thursday,” she said. “And I think that’s sad.”

Debbie Clark Trolsen, another Murrells Inlet resident, said she also won’t be shopping, but said the stores being open may not be a bad thing.

“Not everyone has a home-cooked turkey dinner to stay home for, sadly,” she said.

Sherry Grobaski had similar thoughts. She too won’t be shopping, but said the outrage over retailers opening on holiday’s is laughable. Grobaski said convenience stores and gas stations are always open, but hasn’t heard anyone complain about those employees having to work on holidays.

Hughey said there was some grumbling among employees when the holiday schedule was announced, but she said any early frustrations have disappeared. She said the employees understand the holiday schedule is needed to stay competitive with other stores.

Hughey said she hasn’t heard from any customers who are upset with the store opening on Thanksgiving, and said customers typically aren’t shy about sharing opinions.

Retailers say they’re just giving consumers what they want.

“Shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend has become a much-anticipated tradition enjoyed with friends and family,” said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief customer officer, in a statement. “As many customers are eager to get a jump start on their shopping, we are opening our stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day as a convenience to our customers who want to make Kohl’s their first stop.”

Some stores are sticking with tradition and keeping doors locked on Thanksgiving. Among those are Dillard’s, Home Depot, Costco, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Ross.

Competition for the dollar is a major driver of the early opening times.

“They’re fearful if they don’t get to the wallet early they’ll lose out,” said Bill Martin, founder of Chicago-based retail tracking company ShopperTrak. “I think it’s unfortunate. It extends the holiday so far in advance we forget what the holiday’s about to begin with.”

Stores like J.C. Penney that held out for a traditional 6 a.m. Black Friday opening last year missed out to those that opened earlier. J.C. Penney suffered a particularly disastrous holiday season, losing $552 million as the company struggled with an ill-fated new strategy under former CEO Ron Johnson.

“Retailers are not going to leave an opportunity to get more business,” said Britt Beemer, CEO of Charleston-based retail consulting firm America’s Research Group. “If you have half of America shopping, you can’t miss that.”

The Charlotte Observer’s Ely Portillo contributed to this report.

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381 or follow her on Twitter @TSN_akelley.

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