By Phil Wahba
November 6, 2017

Target is pumping the brakes on Black Friday madness.

As it has since 2014, Target will open its stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening to welcome shoppers who might want to get an early start on their Black Friday shopping or escape their relatives after a long meal.

But in a new move, one similar to the practice last year at fellow Minneapolis retailer Best Buy, the discount chain will close its stores at midnight and re-open them at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. In 2016, Target had stayed open through the night and into Black Friday.

Target Chief Stores Officer Janna Potts said in a statement that the strategy would give employees “a chance to recharge and prepare our stores before we open on Friday.”

But the Target strategy is also likely to ease pressure on its margins by cutting down on overtime and general pay at a time when shoppers are scarce, the results of the “Black Friday” creep that has led many retailers to open their doors on Turkey Day and progressively bring up store opening times in the last decade. What’s more, because of the business a company like Target does online, any hit to sales is mitigated by e-commerce.

Indeed, Target will once again offer Black Friday doorbuster deals on Target.com on the morning of Thanksgiving. In the days heading up to Thanksgiving, Target will start rolling out some deals on Monday.

Some other retailers however are putting on shopping marathons: J.C. Penney for one says it will open at 2 p.m., its earliest opening yet on Thanksgiving, giving it a three hour start on Macy’s and Kohl’s, and illustrating how urgently it needs to have a strong sales quarter even as those extra hours could damage its profits. Toys ‘R’ Us will get going at 5 p.m. and stay open for 30 hours in a row.

Macy’s will largely stick to its 2016 approach and open at 5 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving and close at 2 a.m., before reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

As for Target, it is trying a new tactic to get customers to come back later in the holiday season and ease the shopping lull that frequently happens between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. Anyone who spends $50 on Friday, November 24 will get a 20% coupon for future shopping. And in a move to encourage use of its Redcard loyalty card, it will give card holders first crack at some 100 Black Friday deals on the day before Thanksgiving.

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