Breaking Things: Are you ready for 'Gray Thursday'?

Posted by Patty Guerra on October 15, 2013 

Macy's announced Monday it will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, joining a growing number of retailers who have been looking for business on what's traditionally been a holiday.

I have gone out to cover "Black Friday" shopping the last couple of years. Prior to that - much prior - I worked my way through college in retail. I can remember having to be at work at 7 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving and thinking how crazy early that was. Now, 7 a.m. is midday, and some folks are referring to Thanksgiving as "Gray Thursday".

Last year, if I recall correctly, Toys R Us and Walmart opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, followed by Target an hour later. Other stores, including most of Vintage Faire Mall, held out for midnight. But it seems as if - at least for the chain stores - the days of Black Friday starting with a cup of coffee and a line at 6 a.m. or so are gone forever.

Some people complain that retailers are ruining an important American holiday in search of a dollar in an increasingly competitive shopping season - which this year is pretty short, due to a late Thanksgiving. But retailers don't do this because they're mean; they do it because people come out and spend money. I heard an analyst on radio station KCBS put it roughly like this: There are a lot of people who want something to do once that dishwasher snaps shut after Thanksgiving dinner.

It's not for everyone. Personally, I'd need a really awesome deal - say, a $100 deal on a college education for my little boy - to get me out there shopping. But I have enjoyed going out to cover the madness. It's a fun vibe. People are - mostly - in a good mood.

Most major retailers have not announced their plans for this year. Now that Macy's has sort of thrown down the gauntlet, it will be interesting to see what they do.

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