That annual staple of Thanksgiving returns this year and it isn’t the turkey.
They refer to it as Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year. However, many retailers plan to make it Black Thursday this year, opening earlier than ever so that there is barely enough time to digest that second helping of stuffing, yams, and mash potatoes.
Stores such as Walmart, Target, Sears, Kmart, and Toys "R" Us all plan to open their doors at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving instead of the usual early Friday morning.
Not everyone is happy about the earlier hours, some employees in particular.
Casey St. Clair, a 24-year-old Target employee, created a petition Nov. 8 on Change.org titled "Target: Take the high road and save Thanksgiving." More than 361,000 people have signed the online petition, which has been shared widely on social media sites such as Facebook.
St. Clair said in the petition that she doesn't object to Black Friday, just this year's 8 p.m. Thursday opening.
"I just heard that one of Target's top competitors, Walmart, will open at 8 pm on Thanksgiving this year. Since workers need to show up sometimes hours before the story officially opens, this will take much of Thanksgiving away from retail employees across the country," she wrote. "Target can take the high road and save Thanksgiving for employees like me and our families by saying no to 'Thanksgiving Creep.'"
St. Clair, who works at the Norco store in Riverside County, personally delivered her petition to Target corporate headquarters in Minneapolis Monday, The Press Enterprise reported.
Tim Curoe, Target’s vice president of human resources told the newspaper that while he appreciates that employees working Black Friday are cutting their holiday short others are in favor of the company’s plans and want the holiday and incentive pay.
Retailers don't appear likely to let protesting employees deter plans to open early.
The National Retail Federation last week released a preliminary Black Friday shopping survey that found that around 147 million people plan to shop Black Friday weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), slightly down from the 152 million who declared they would last year.
Of those surveyed, 71 million said they plan to shop and another 76 million revealed that they would wait to see what kind of deals retailers had to offer that weekend.
Specifically, 71 million said they would shop and another 76 million said they would wait and see what retailers have in-store that weekend, NRF reported.
“Though the Black Friday tradition is here to stay, there’s no question that it has changed in recent years; already there is a tremendous amount of excitement and anticipation surrounding retailers’ Thanksgiving and Black Friday promotions,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release.
“It’s critical for retail companies to constantly evolve as consumers do, and right now shoppers want great deals, good value, and convenience—exactly what we’re seeing with this season’s late and early openings, price-matching, layaway, and mobile offerings.”
The survey also included data on how shoppers prefer to keep up with promotions. Around 49.5 percent track sales with advertising circulars, while 30.5 percent say they rely on television ads to follow upcoming sales and events. The number of Americans who prefer to track sales digitally is growing, with 26.8 percent saying they will follow retailers’ websites and 31.4 percent planning to keep up with specials via emails from stores.
“The days of waking up Thanksgiving morning to find out what retailers’ Black Friday promotions will be has transitioned into an ongoing dialogue between companies and their customers starting days in advance,” said BIGinsight Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow in a statement. “Through sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, company blogs, emails and mobile apps, consumers can connect with their favorite retailers like never before.”
Digital promotions for Black Friday also are growing.
Three or 10 retailers, or 29 percent, say they plan to promote Black Friday deals with mobile alerts, an increase from 18.4 percent last year, according to the Shop.org’s eHoliday survey BIGinsight conducted.
Around 80.6 percent of retailers surveyed also said they plan to use Facebook to pass along information about in-store deals to shoppers, up from 73.7 percent in 2011.