Cain: Black Friday? It’s now Black Thursday for many
BY CINDY WOJDYLA CAIN email@example.com November 16, 2012 11:00PM
Laurie Howard of Joliet joins the rest of the crowd looking for early bird specials on Black Friday at Westfield Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet on Friday, Nov. 26. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 15, 2013 1:38PM
Thanksgiving was once a holiday set aside for family and food, and Black Friday was designed for people who viewed shopping as a contact sport.
But the line between the two is getting fuzzy, not unlike forgotten turkey leftovers.
Retailers have been opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday, and now some are opening on Thanksgiving evening, which has spawned “Save Thanksgiving” petitions on Facebook and a website called Change.org.
Sears and Walmart are both opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, even earlier than last year. In contrast, JC Penney won’t open until 6 a.m. Friday, said Mark Strand, store leader at the Penney’s in the Louis Joliet mall.
“It lets the employees spend some quality time with their families and I think they appreciate it,” Strand said.
John Melaniphy, a retail analyst with Chicago-based Melaniphy & Associates, said Walmart’s numbers haven’t been “sensational” in recent years, so the company is doing what it can to get consumers excited about the approaching holiday. Other retailers are following suit.
“It’s one-upmanship,” Melaniphy said. “It’s everyone trying to get a leg up on everybody else because retailing has been tough for four or five years. It’s not new or surprising, particularly in this economy.”
But even Melaniphy believes the stores may be going to far.
“I think it’s nuts,” he said. “Thanksgiving is a holiday. It’s a time when families are together. To (open early) is insane.”
Sears is the only store that will open on Thanksgiving Day at the Louis Joliet mall, director of marketing Alysia Gordon said. About 60 other mall stores will open at midnight and the rest by 5 a.m. Friday, she added.
Who will win the ultimate battle between family and frenzy? As long as shoppers show up, I would guess early-bird retailers will win the day.
In other pre-holiday shopping news:
Louis Joliet mall shoppers will have a new option to quench their thirst or hunger pangs this season. A Jamba Juice, which features fresh smoothies and snacks, is scheduled to open inside the mall near the theater in December, Gordon said.
Other recent additions to the former Westfield mall now owned by Starwood include: Windsor, a teen and ‘tween fashion store; Teddy Mountain, a stuff-your-own teddy bear shop; and Body Central, a women’s apparel store.
A survey by the National Retail Federation shows 52.8 percent of Americans have already started their holiday shopping, up from 51.4 percent last year. Popular gifts include clothing, clothing accessories, gift cards and toys.
Also, the survey showed 22.5 percent of shoppers will surprise someone special with jewelry, the highest amount since 2007. (That’s a hint, men.)