Thanksgiving Day the new Black Friday for some Myrtle Beach area shoppers

Shopping has become as much a part of Thanksgiving for some as turkey and all the fixings, with more stores than ever planning to open on the holiday to give bargain-hunting shoppers a jumpstart on typical Black Friday deals.

More retailers and shopping centers have joined the trend of opening Thursday night – some even opening much earlier in the day – rolling out deals that many only thought could be found on the day after Thanksgiving. Some stores have been offering pre-Black Friday deals in the past couple of weeks to spur holiday sales.

“It is not just Black Friday anymore,” said Nick Barrett, general manager of the two Tanger Outlets along the Grand Strand, which for the second consecutive year will open at 10 p.m. Thursday. “It’s becoming more and more of a family event. It is becoming a part of Thanksgiving tradition for some. The excitement is there. People are sort of chomping at the bits.”

Before some Thanksgiving revelers finish dessert, die-hard shoppers can be checking off the final items on their Christmas shopping lists. About 30 percent of Americans plan to shop on Thanksgiving between 6 p.m. and midnight, calling it an extended Black Friday, according to America’s Research Group, a consumer behavior research group with offices in Summerville.

“Crowds will be massive this year,” Britt Beemer, chairman and CEO of America’s Research Group, said on the group’s website. “The most important aspect of which is that Americans are more bargain-driven than ever; 29.5 percent of Americans tell us that they will be out before Black Friday on Thanksgiving night looking for mega deals and creating a shopping ‘spree’ second only to Black Friday.”

Among the stores getting a Thanksgiving start Thursday: Target will open at 9 p.m., Bass Pro Shops will open at 8 a.m., Old Navy at Coastal Grand mall opens at 9 a.m., Sears, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart also will be open on Thanksgiving, as will some stores in shopping centers such as Broadway at the Beach and Barefoot Landing. Kohl’s opens at midnight.

Most of the stores at Coastal Grand mall in Myrtle Beach will open at midnight Friday for the first time, rather than waiting until the early morning hours.

“We had a very large group of merchants that wanted to open,” said Steve McGhee, the mall’s general manager. “As of right now, we expect close to 70 percent of our merchants to open at midnight and the remainder opening at 5 a.m. We think we will have a very good crowd here at midnight and feel it will build as the night goes on.”

Not all folks are excited about more stores opening on a holiday that has traditionally been about food and family.

“I’m not interested in Black Friday. They’ve run it in the ground,” Myrtle Beach resident Joan Tuck said. “I don’t agree with it. The stores should at least take a day off for the help so they can be with their families. That’s what Thanksgiving is about.”

Lesa Bailey of Charleston, W.Va., who is visiting the Grand Strand this week and has always shopped on Black Friday, said she’ll take advantage of the stores being open and shop on Thanksgiving.

“I don’t like it but I’m going to do it,” she said. “I do feel like I need to be out there. I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t.”

Bailey’s mother, Eva Meadows, said she doesn’t like shopping creeping into the holiday.

“That messes up your Thanksgiving,” she said Tuesday while shopping at Coastal Grand mall. Never mind, though, because she’s got a plan to avoid the usual holiday shopping rush. “I’m getting all my Christmas shopping done today.”

Despite the jumpstart of shopping, mall managers don’t expect Black Friday to lose any luster in part because of tradition and the quest for the best deals.

“That’s the fun part of Black Friday,” said Joe Perl, manager of Myrtle Beach Mall. “It’s the hunt for the bargain. The customers are looking for those deals.”