Store chains are fond of calling Black Friday the Super Bowl of retail. But the three-day shop-a-thon (which really begins Thanksgiving morning online) is not the biggest retail event of the year. That honor goes to Super Saturday Weekend, anchored by the last Saturday before Christmas, as panicked shoppers hit stores to wrap up their gift buying.
But the long Thanksgiving weekend is key to training customers early in the season to shop at a given store and for retailers to get a sense of what's working and what's not so they can recalibrate until Santa comes down the chimney. And it's all the more important given that the election distracted many American consumers, depriving retailers of hundreds of millions of dollars they need to make up over this big shopping weekend.
The National Retail Federation has forecast a strong holiday shopping season this year, with spending up 3.6% in November and December, despite a lot of election angst. And stores from Target (tgt) to Walmart (wmt) and Kohl's (kss) to Macy's (m) have sounded upbeat notes even as they promise more aggressive pricing.
So of course, they want to get off on the right foot, trotting out some of their most aggressive deals and marketing dazzle for the occasion. While some retailers have made a big deal of being closed on Thanksgiving, most of the major names are open on Nov. 24, lest they lose a penny to rivals.
Here are some of the major chains opening their doors on Thanksgiving, Thursday Nov. 24:
- Walmart: The largest U.S. retailer will be open all day as it has been for 30 years, since it is also the largest grocer. However, the in-store Black Friday deals won't start until 6 p.m., while online, shoppers will have access to them all day.
- J.C. Penney: As it did last year, the retailer is opening at 3 p.m., giving it a two-hour head-start over its direct rival, Macy's. Penney's is also staying open for 31 straight hours.
- Old Navy: The low-priced unit of Gap Inc (gps) will open at 4 p.m.
- Best Buy: Coming off of better-than-expected sales in the last year, the electronics retailer will open at 5 p.m. and close at 1 a.m., before re-opening at 8 a.m. on Black Friday itself.
- Macy's: After its seventh straight quarter of sales declines, the department store is opening at 5 p.m., an hour earlier than last year.
- Toys R Us: The toy store faces a lot of competition from Target, Walmart, and Amazon so it is opening at 5 p.m. on Turkey Day.
- Target: The discount chain will open at 6 p.m., just as it has in recent years, with online deals available earlier.
- Kohl's: The department store is sticking to a 6 p.m. opening on Thanksgiving for its third year.
- Sears: The struggling retailer will also open at 6 p.m. yet again.
- Michaels: The arts-and-crafts retailer will greet customers at 6 p.m.
Many other stores have decided the extra labor costs of being open on Thanksgiving were not worth it, so they are sticking to a "traditional" Black Friday:
Only REI will be closed on Black Friday itself among major retailers.