Holiday shopping Q&A: Are consumers rejecting shopping on Thanksgiving?

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 12:00 am

Q. Why are more stores opening on Thanksgiving Day and offering Black Friday deals days early?

A. Generally, they're trying to get a bigger slice of consumer spending by encouraging people to shop early. That's especially true this year — Thanksgiving is later in the month, so there are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of a more typical 30 or 32.

Q. Are consumers rejecting the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving?

A. Protests and petitions are common, and a Huffington Post poll out Tuesday said 62 percent of Americans think businesses should close on Thanksgiving so workers can have the day off. But the portion of people shopping on Thanksgiving has risen each of the last three years. In 2012, 35 million Americans visited stores or websites on Thanksgiving vs. 89 million on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation. Customers spent $810 million on Thanksgiving Day.

Q. Are some retailers rejecting the idea of opening on Thanksgiving?

A. Nebraska- and Iowa-based retailers Nebraska Furniture Mart, Gordmans, Cabela's and Von Maur said they were remaining closed on Thursday. Nationally, Nordstrom, Dillard's, Home Depot, Costco, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Ross stores are remaining closed on Thanksgiving.

Q. Why are sales this time of year called “black?”

A. Retailers use the term to reflect that the day after Thanksgiving once marked the start of the holiday season, a profitable one that shifted their books from red to black. That's not as true anymore, but retailers still hope to generate sales through advertised specials, often available for a limited time.

Q. What about the store employees?

A. An Omaha Target employee made national news two years ago by protesting the chain's plans to open at midnight. This year, it plans to open at 8 p.m. Several retailers, when announcing Thanksgiving hours, said they would staff with volunteers and seasonal employees. They said they heard from employees who appreciated having more hours to choose from or who needed to earn overtime or holiday pay. A J.C. Penney official said that after being one of the last to open last year, store employees wanted to open on Thanksgiving this year so they could get the chance to better compete with rivals.

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