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Will you shop on Black Thursday?

Some Americans are unhappy with retailers' plans to start Black Friday shopping even earlier, on Thanksgiving Day. Are you staying home?

By Karen Datko Nov 21, 2012 4:31PM

Credit: © Gary Vestal /Photographer's Choice /Getty Images
Caption: Turkey
Much has been made about how Black Friday 2012 is encroaching on Thanksgiving Day.


In fact, many are now referring to Thanksgiving as Black Thursday (not to be confused with the mighty Oct. 24, 1929, stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression). "Grey Thursday" has been used by some, says The Huffington Post.


Actually, this has been the trend for the past several years, though somewhat under the radar. But with more major retailers launching Black Friday at 8 or 9 on Thursday night, people are squawking now. 


"Retailers have basically ruined every holiday," Marshal Cohen, the chief industry analyst at the NPD Group, told MarketWatch.


More than 350,000 people have signed a petition by Target employee Casey St. Clair at asking Target not to open on Turkey Day. It's only one of a large number of petitions on the subject of greedy retailers who are transforming Thanksgiving. 


"Go back to an early Friday morning opening and let your workers eat turkey while squabbling with loved ones they haven't been able to see all year!" one commenter wrote.


More than 34,000 people have signed a petition at asking Wal-Mart not to start Black Friday sales on Thursday evening. Protests by Wal-Mart "associates" are planned outside 1,000 stores on Black Friday.


Before you decide whether you're going to shop on Thanksgiving Day or sit home and digest a big meal, consider these facts:


Shopping hours haven't changed that much. Mega-retailer Wal-Mart is open every Thanksgiving. The only day it closes is Christmas. So what's different this year? The Black Friday specials will roll out two hours earlier than they did last year. "Wal-Mart will release different deals at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and again at 5 a.m. on Black Friday," The Washington Post reports.


Kmart has been open on Thanksgiving for 21 years, adds the Post, although door-busters on Thursday are a recent addition.


We were already shopping on Thanksgiving. We just weren't leaving home to do it. Bill Tancer, the general manager of global retail for Experian, told MarketWatch that Thanksgiving was the top online shopping day from 2003 through 2011, when it was surpassed by Cyber Monday.


Your dinner guests will be shopping too. "Many people plan to bring smartphones and tablets to Thanksgiving dinners at friends' or relatives' homes and use their mobile devices to shop before and after the holiday meal, according to eMarketer, a research firm specializing in digital commerce and marketing," reports The Orange County Register. (Not at the dinner table, people!)

Big retail chains claim they're responding to demands from their customers. That may be true. If you're addicted to door-busters, which would you rather do: Go shopping at midnight or 4 a.m. on Black Friday or spend a few hours shopping on Thursday night?


But don't let retailers fool you. Once one big chain decided to roll out Black Friday deals on Thursday, others felt compelled to do it too. No company wants to be left behind in the frenzied campaign for your holiday dollars. "Retailers are under immense pressure to get the holiday shopping season off to a strong start,” John Challenger, the CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, says.


Target said it asked for volunteers to work on Thursday, when the store will open at 9 p.m. Employees will make time-and-a-half holiday pay on Thanksgiving and get extra for working overnight. "We had so many team members who wanted to work on Thursday that hundreds of our stores are now keeping lists of volunteers who want to work if shifts open up," said Tina Schiel, Target's executive vice president of stores.


But many retail employees don't get to pick their shifts, so Thanksgiving at home with the family won't happen this year. And that's not right, some maintain. "A full-time Thanksgiving should not just be the stuff of a Norman Rockwell painting," an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said.


From an editorial in New Jersey's Asbury Park Press:

"Ultimately, the holidays are not about things, but about the people we care about. And shopping should wait until Thanksgiving is over. Are we so taken by bargains and sales that we can't keep our wallets in our pants or pocketbooks for a day -- a day that for centuries has been set aside for reflecting on our past and current blessings?"

Guess so. Only 31% of U.S. adults think Black Friday is beginning too early this year, says a new survey.


A Deloitte survey says 23% will be shopping on Thanksgiving, a big jump from 17% last year. There's nothing to suggest that most people will balk at Black Thursday this year and in years to come.


"It will be interesting to see if the notion of Black Thanksgiving is the line in the sand that U.S. consumers will not cross," wrote Laura Heller at Forbes. "But I suspect not. The lure of the deal, like it or not, will ring registers."


What are your shopping plans?


More on MSN Money:


Nov 26, 2012 3:23AM
Quit calling it that.  It is NOT "Black Thursday."  Sure, you think it's cute now.  Wait until it sticks.  See how long it takes for the holiday of gratitude to become a distant memory.
Nov 22, 2012 11:29PM
@MzAnnie, I understand many people need to do what they can to earn extra money, but all of us would be better off if retailers actually paid all of you a decent wage in the first place.  I was shocked to learn how little WalMart employees make per hour while the upper end of management pockets millions of dollars.  It is shameful and for that reason alone I go out of my way to support small local businesses.
If you were paid anything close to decent wages all of us would be better off and able to enjoy the holidays.
Nov 22, 2012 4:54PM
@MzAnnie0417:  I appreciate what you are saying and say bless you for wanting to work on Thanksgiving.  However, to me it is just WRONG to expect employees to give up their family time on this holiday for the greedy commercial good of the companies.  I say, if they have more hours to give to employees, open earlier and close much later throughout the shopping season.  This would give them more time to restock the shelves,  put things back where they belong, spread out the massive crowds that push and shove their way through the stores, and hopefully give people a more positive shopping experience.  

Nov 22, 2012 1:51PM
I won't shop Black Friday or any other holidays, I will work it and I am glad for the extra hours. If people don't wish to shop they are free to stay home. In this bad job market many of us low wage people are greatful for any extra hours, low wage is much better than no wage. So, people who bemoan our fate to work dreadful hours perhaps your comments mean well, but you need to look at another side of the equation, remember that the stores being open more hours adds work hours for some of us who want it and need it and are willing to work. Whoever decided to add the extra work hours my wallet will thank you.
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