By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
MERCER COUNTY —
But then again – the shopping has already begun.
More retailers than ever opened their doors on Thanksgiving day this year as a way to entice shoppers to buy, buy, buy. What’s more, a number of retailers had flashy sales last week as the start of holiday season sales.
Just what’s going on here?
For generations Black Friday, so named because it put many retailers in the black for annual profits, was long considered the official kickoff to holiday shopping. The day after Thanksgiving was considered a good choice because it allowed shoppers, and store employees, a day of rest on Thanksgiving day before the onslaught began.
Turns out the shoppers were restless.
Initially retailers opened an hour or two early on Black Friday, typically around 8 a.m. to generate excitement about sales. Then about 15 years ago the clock got pushed back earlier and earlier with larger department stores opening their doors at 6 a.m., then it became 4 a.m. and in some cases even earlier.
More than a decade ago Kmart was among the first retailers to open their door on Thanksgiving day to allow consumers first crack at sales items.
Then shopping centers such as Grove City Premium Outlets pushed it even further when in 2006 stores at the Springfield Township mall opened at the strike of midnight, the last official second of Thanksgiving day. Promoted as a “midnight madness’’ sale the event lived up to its billing as traffic backed up for 10 miles on Interstate 79 and seven miles on I-80.
With such an enormous success there was no turning back.
Target and Toys R Us began pushing their opening time into late Thanksgiving night.
This year for the first time Macy’s, J.C.Penney and Staples are opening their doors Thanksgiving day along with Kohl’s. The Gap, which operates Old Navy, Gap and Banana Republic, opened half its stores Thanksgiving morning.
Social media sites such as Facebook are filled with people pleading with others not to shop on Thanksgiving and to stay home with their loved ones. But, at least in the past, people have voted with their pocketbooks and have gone out in legions to retailers opening at almost any hour over the next several days.
A few retailers, a very brave few, have steadfastly said they will not open this Thanksgiving such as Jo Ann Fabric, which has a Hermitage store.
Here’s a scorecard on what some major national retailers with local stores did on Thanksgiving Day and will be doing today. Times are based on those listed by each retailer on their individual websites.
• Sears – Opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving and all night until 10 p.m. tonight Friday.
• Kohl’s – Opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving and all night until 11:59 p.m. tonight Friday.
• Kmart – Opened at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving and all night until 11 p.m. tonight Friday.
• J.C. Penney – Opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving and all night until 9 p.m. tonight Friday.
• Macy’s – Opened at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving and all night until 10 p.m. tonight Friday.
• Big Lots – Opened at 7 a.m. Thanksgiving until 11 p.m. Open 6 a.m. today until 11 p.m. tonight Friday.
• Walmart – Stores in Hermitage, Hempfield Township and Grove City are open 24 hours.
• Staples – Opened 8 p.m. Thanksgiving and closing at midnight. Open at 6 a.m. today and closing 9 p.m. tonight Friday.
• Grove City Premium Outlets – The center reports 81 stores were to open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving with the remaining 49 stores to have staggered openings throughout the night and remain open all night. The outlet center will close at 10 p.m. tonight Friday