Turn off the alarm and sleep in. There's no need this year to get up before dawn on Black Friday to grab those hot holiday deals at some of the nation's largest department stores.
Kohl's, J.C. Penney, Macy's and Bon-Ton, which operates 273 department stores including Younkers, announced this week that they will open on Thanksgiving Day at 8 p.m. — a first for all four.
Last year, Omaha-area Kohl's and Younkers stores waited until midnight to unlock the doors, while J.C. Penney kept the entrances locked until 6 a.m. on Black Friday.
On the other hand, the national trend toward impinging on the holiday meal hasn't made inroads with at least three Nebraska-based retailers, Gordmans, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Cabela's. Store officials say they want their employees enjoying Thanksgiving with their families.
For the last few years, the big-box discount stores, including Walmart and Target, have led the Turkey Day charge, opening stores earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving.
Now national department store chains are following in the turkey tracks of the discount stores' sometimes controversial lead. Online protests erupted last year over Target's decision to open at 9 p.m., which was one hour later than the 8 p.m. openings of Walmart, Toys R Us and Sears. Previous years also spawned online petitions condemning retailers that hung “open for business” signs on Thanksgiving. Despite the protests, each year more shoppers join the Thanksgiving Day crowds.
It makes you wonder — has Black Friday become the big snooze?
Black Friday has long been trumpeted as one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but the percentage of consumers who do the majority of their shopping on that day is 15 percent, according to a recent study by Deluxe Corp.
The line between Thanksgiving and Black Friday has gotten even fuzzier. Of the consumers who shopped on Thursday and Friday last year, “40 percent made purchases on Thanksgiving and 60 percent made purchases on Friday morning,” said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, a Charleston, S.C., research firm.
“It's not 50-50, but it's gotten pretty close, pretty fast,” Beemer said.
When it comes to numbers of people — at the malls, at the stores, in the aisles — Black Friday continues to be the No. 1 day for shopping. It may not be the biggest day in terms of dollars, but in terms of traffic — Americans out and about — it keeps its title, Beemer said.
At Village Pointe Shopping Center in Omaha and Shadow Lake Towne Center in Papillion “there are several merchants planning to open on Thanksgiving,” said Kim Jones, spokeswoman for both centers.
“The shopping centers will not be open, but some stores will be,” Jones said. Many major retailers are still sitting on the fence, she said, and have not committed to a holiday schedule. “They're looking at one another trying to decide whether to open Thanksgiving.”
A few stores at Westroads Mall are opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, while others are waiting until midnight and still others have yet to decide, a mall official said.
Oak View Mall will open at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“We're not even doing Black Friday. It's turned into Black Thursday,” said Ted Harris, Oak View's general manager. Oak View's J.C. Penney and Younkers will open at 8 p.m. Retailers can decide when they want to open after that point. All stores must be open by 6 a.m., Harris said.
The trend that has more stores open on Thanksgiving may be gaining popularity with shoppers, but it still doesn't sit well with the help, Beemer said. “Thanksgiving is still a family dinner day for many, many families, and employees don't want to work it.”
That sentiment will keep Gordmans and Nebraska Furniture Mart stores dark on Nov. 28 this year.
“While other retailers have announced that they are opening on Thanksgiving, we believe in honoring the family traditions of this holiday and will remain closed so that our associates may enjoy Thanksgiving with their families,” said Jeff Gordman, president and CEO of Gordmans. The Omaha-based apparel and home decor retailer will open its 93 stores on Black Friday at 5 a.m.
The Cabela's in La Vista also is expected to open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
The Buckle, based in Kearney, Neb., has not confirmed what time it will open its three Omaha-area stores, located at the Mall of the Bluffs, Oak View and Westroads. Last year, the Buckle, which has about 440 stores nationwide, opened most of its stores on Black Friday.
Nebraska Furniture Mart's three stores won't open on Thanksgiving.
“We resist the pressure,” said Robert Batt, the company's executive vice president. The Mart plans to open its Omaha campus at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.
“We're not open on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July Fourth, Memorial or Labor Day,” Batt said. “That's called work-life balance.”