shoppers line up outside an Office Depot store in Lawrence,
Kan., Thursday The store was set to open at 6:00 Thanksgiving
NEW YORK -
Early-bird shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving in what's
becoming a new holiday tradition.
In the Chicago
suburb of Naperville, Illinois, the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store
was full roughly 30 minutes before Thanksgiving deals started at 6
p.m., including $199 iPad minis.
In New York City,
there were 500 people in line by the time a Target store in the East
Harlem neighborhood opened at 6 p.m.
And 200 people
rushed in at the Toys R Us in New York City's Times Square when it
opened at 5 p.m.
Mary Smalls, 40,
was out trying to get all her shopping done on Thanksgiving because
she wanted to avoid going out on the day after the holiday that's
known as Black Friday.
"I'm going to
try to avoid the crowds," said Smalls, who plans to spend $300
to $400 on gifts this year.
shopping has come a long way. Just a few years ago when a few stores
started opened late on the holiday, the move was met with resistance
from workers and shoppers who believed the day should be sacred.
Morales pouts while shopping with his father Rigoberto, at
Kmart on 34th Street on Thursday, in New York. Millions of
customers are expected to shop on Thanksgiving Day as many
retailers remain open on a day traditionally reserved for
spending time with family.
But last year, more
than dozen major retailers opened at some point on Thanksgiving
evening. And this year, at least half of them — including Target,
Macy's, Staples and J.C. Penney — opened earlier in the evening on
openings are one way retailers are trying to compete for Americans'
holiday dollars. Used to be that Black Friday was when they'd focus
their sales promotions. But increasingly, they've been pushing those
promotions earlier on Friday — and eventually into the holiday
itself — to grab deal-hungry shoppers' attention.
co-founder of ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 70,000 stores
globally, is expecting a sales increase of 3 percent to 5 percent to
$2.57 billion to $2.62 billion on Thanksgiving. Last year's figure
grew two-fold from the year before.
The National Retail
Federation expects 25.6 million shoppers to take advantage of the
Thanksgiving openings, down slightly from last year.
Kathy Grannis, a
spokeswoman at the retail trade group, said that earlier promotions
in the month and shoppers' uncertainty about when they can get the
best deals are factors that could lead to fewer shoppers coming out
on the holiday.
Basurto, of Mexico, shops at Kmart Thursday in New York.
Millions of customers are expected to shop on Thanksgiving Day
as many retailers remain open on a day traditionally reserved
for spending time with family.
Thanksgiving is starting to take a bite out of Black Friday
business. Indeed, sales dropped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion on
Black Friday last year. Analysts said Thanksgiving sales were in
part responsible for the decline.
And Gerald Storch,
who runs a retail consultancy called Storch Advisors, said stores
that open on Thanksgiving get more of their share of sales for the
four-day holiday weekend than others who open on Friday.
they keep doing it," he said. "You have to be first."
Being first can
lure shoppers like Raquila Wilkinson, 34, who arrived at the Target
in New York at 2 a.m. — 15.5 hours before its 6 p.m. opening. She
has been deal hunting on Thanksgiving for a few years now.
tradition," said Wilkinson. "I look forward to it."
shopping list? A 40-inch TV for $119, headphones for $97 and pajamas
Not every shopper
is happy about stores opening on the holiday. A number of petitions
have been circulating on change.org targeting Wal-Mart, Target and
other retailers for opening their stores on Thanksgiving, or
starting their sales that day. Most of Wal-Mart's stores already
open around the clock.
Even some shoppers
who were out on Thanksgiving felt a tinge of guilt. "I'd prefer
to spend the whole day with my family," said Hector Huayamade,
34, who was shopping at Toys R Us in New York while visiting from
Florida with his family. "But the stores are open, so we do
Not every store was
open on Thanksgiving, though. Some, including GameStop, Costco and
Ikea, said they wouldn't open because they want their workers to
enjoy the holiday.