Hot on the heels of Kmart’s controversial decision to open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, major retailers like Macy’s, Sears, Target, J.C. Penney, Toys R Us, and Best Buy are opting to kick-off Black Friday a day early—on Thanksgiving.
Last year saw the advent of a new breed of holiday consumer who considers holiday sales something of a sport. Dubbed “adventure shoppers,” these eager buyers helped swell the ranks of people shopping on Thanksgiving by 23 percent in 2012, according to a poll conducted by Deloitte. Some consumers said they specifically chose to stay local for the holiday, in order to capitalize on early sales and shopping opportunities, according to an online poll conducted by Harris Interactive.
Even more surprising, a second Deloitte poll found that almost one in seven holiday consumers plans to skip Thanksgiving dinner this year in order to get a jump on Black Friday sales.
The “big box” retailers responsible for the increasingly early onset of Black Friday sales claim they are simply giving consumers what they want. The early sales are also clear attempts to head off competition, securing as many holiday dollars as possible during the key selling season, which accounts for anywhere from 20 percent to a whopping 40 percent of annual revenue. Given that the 2013 holiday season is six days shorter than past years, retailers worldwide are feeling even more pressure to perform.
Retail bloggers and pundits alike have criticized the Thanksgiving sales, describing them as an erosion of an American family tradition. In a statement to the Chicago Tribune, Darrin Duber-Smith, a marketing professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, said the development is “bull” and “a sad event.”