Saturday, 12 November 2011

Many more stores opening on Thanksgiving this year

Many more stores opening on Thanksgiving this year

For the first time, a host of big name retailers will be opening their doors at Midnight on Black Friday, heralding the start of a 23-hour shopping day.

1000 Gap, Blue Navy, Banana Republic and Athletic stores will start Thanksgiving sales as the clock strikes 12 on November 25, joining Macy's, Best Buy, Kohl's and Target in the new trend.

The move may be a desperate effort to boost flat sales, following a dismal October.
Black Friday madness takes grip as Macy's, Gap, Kohl's and Target announce midnight store openings.

In holiday seasons past, outlet malls were the first places to open in the wee hours of Black Friday.

Now a dogpile of mainstream retailers are fighting back and throwing open their doors even earlier.

Walmart will open at 10 p.m. while some families are just cleaning up their turkey dinner.

Macy's, Bealls, Target and others will open at midnight Thanksgiving Day in hopes of reaping bigger sales on the year's biggest shopping day, and the list of early-bird stores keeps growing. BestBuy will kick off Black Friday events by 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

Not to be outflanked, some outlets are moving their opening hours earlier, too. Ellenton Premium Outlets, for instance, will have some stores opening at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

"It's a race to the bottom," said Doug Stephens, a retail consultant based in Toronto. "It's no secret that even giants like Walmart have been stacking up quarter after quarter of negative same-store sales performance. So, they're all jumping on the blowout wagon this year to a greater extent than last."

That tactical playbook gives retail stores a few benefits.

Opening early first of all gives stores a few more hours to generate sales, and helps a store generate more buzz leading up to the holidays.

But on another level, opening at midnight on Thanksgiving — or sooner — lets retailers press the one advantage they have over online merchants like Amazon: their physical storefront.

So here's a rundown of a few major retailers, and their plans for early openings:

Walmart, long known as a Black Friday Mecca, will open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, then begin phasing in deals: 10 p.m. will feature toys, home and apparel bargains, then electronics deals begin at midnight. Other items will go on sale after 8 a.m.

BestBuy will kick off its Black Friday events at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving at many locations with what they call "cinematic events" for those in line. Then, officially, their doors will open at midnight.

The Gap plans to open about 80 percent of its stores, including The Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy, on Thanksgiving. For instance, the Old Navy at Westshore Plaza mall will open 9 a.m. Thanksgiving, close at 8 p.m. and then reopen at midnight.

Bealls will open stores at midnight on Thanksgiving, compared to 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year, and hand out 100 scratch-off game cards for a chance to win an iPad2 or a $250 gift card.

Target will open the bulk of its stores at midnight on Thanksgiving this year — compared with opening around dawn on Black Friday last year — and will take a much more organized approach to crowd control. At the moment of opening, Target managers will let in groups of 30 people at a time, then pause for a margin of safety, and then let in anther group.

Macy's will open most of its 800-plus U.S. locations at midnight Thanksgiving, compared with 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year.

Disney plans to open 150 retail stores at midnight on Thanksgiving this year, though plans at individual locations may vary. The Westfield Brandon location is scheduled to open at midnight on Turkey Day, and so is one at Westfield Countryside mall in Clearwater. The International Plaza store in Tampa will open at 6 a.m. Friday. (For those willing to travel to The Florida Mall in Orlando, there will be trivia contests to win a Muppet toy.)

The hhgregg chain of electronics and appliance stores plans to open at midnight on Thanksgiving this year, compared with 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year.

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