timesleader.com

Tough choice

November 21, 2012

Some bargain hunters will have to make a tough decision for Thanksgiving. Do they enjoy a turkey dinner and watch football games with family and friends or do they brave the cold to stand in line for a chance at deals on flat screen televisions, laptops or shoes?


That option wasn't available until this year, as retailers try to beat their competition by moving up Black Friday sales to Thanksgiving Day or earlier.


Kmart will be open Thanksgiving from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. The store will close for four hours and reopen from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m., close and then reopen once more at 5 a.m. for additional Black Friday sales.


Boscov's stores will be open 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving and then will reopen at 4 a.m. on Black Friday.


Other stores that are choosing to open on Thursday will do so after nightfall, though it's likely lines will begin forming before the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys 4:15 p.m. scheduled kickoff.


Walmart and Toys R Us will open at 8 p.m. while Target opens at 9. HH Gregg opens its doors at 10 p.m.


In recent years, midnight openings at some retailers opened the traditional beginning of the holiday shopping season, with other stores opening later in the morning.


But the sluggish economy and competition have driven opening times earlier, with the majority of chain stores opening this year at midnight or earlier.


Kohl's, Best Buy, Bon-Ton and Macy's all will open at midnight. A number of stores will keep to early morning Black Friday openings. Staples will open at 5 a.m. So, too, will Lowe's and rival home improvement warehouse Home Depot. JCPenney and Burlington Coat Factory are among the last of the major retailers to wait until 6 a.m.


Kurt Slusser, manager of the JCPenney store at the Wyoming Valley Mall, said the company made a decision that took into consideration employees' obligations to family.


We want our associates to be able to enjoy Thanksgiving with their family and still give our shoppers an exciting shopping experience. By opening at 6 a.m. with the sales we have we can meet both goals, Slusser said.


Joe Ohrin, the marketing director of the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre Township, said stores have opened earlier over the past few years and this year between 50 and 70 percent of the mall's stores will open at midnight.


He recalls when an 8 a.m. opening was considered early. Then it was 7, then 6, then earlier and earlier.


It seems like it's been coming for a while, Ohrin said.


Retailers are under immense pressure to get the holiday shopping season off to a strong start. It is the busiest time of the year for them and Black Friday is so named because it is the day when most retailers' sales move ‘into the black' for the year. As big box chains face growing competition from discounters like Target and Walmart, not to mention the fierce competition from online retailers like Amazon.com, they are all compelled to find whatever edge they can to get shoppers into their stores, said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. in Chicago.