Biz Beat

Biz Beat: Shopping continues to encroach on Thanksgiving

pguerra@modbee.comOctober 19, 2013 

BA Black Friday 2

Target customers enter the store at 4 a.m. on Black Friday in 2010. This year, many stores will open on Thanksgiving, prompting some people to call it “Gray Thursday.”

Macy’s announced last week that 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 past 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 Wal-Mart 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. And that doesn’t even take into account such stores as Sears and Forever 21 and Old Navy that opened on Thanksgiving just as they normally would.

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.

Locally, there’s one store that has kind of a neat tradition. Crescent Work & Outdoor opens on Thanksgiving morning for a few hours. It started on a Thanksgiving several years ago when someone stopped by the store while the owner was inside doing paperwork. He opened up and since then, the store operates early then shuts down so everyone can go home for Thanksgiving dinner.

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.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

If you are between the ages of 17 and 21 and looking for computer training, a local business got a grant to provide it for free. Computer Tutor Business & Technical Institute is offering career training in administrative assistant, medical or accounting clerk classes. Job placement assistance is available. The training is Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 18 weeks. Of 60 spots in July, just 36 had been filled as of last week. For more information, call (209) 545-5200.

It seems as if gyms are still a growing enterprise as folks continue to try to shrink their waistlines (or build up their muscles). One of the In-Shape gyms in Modesto, at 1800 Prescott Road, recently completed a million-dollar remodeling project and had a grand reopening. And the CrossFit craze continues to expand. A new facility opened in Patterson last month at 501 N. First St. For owner Judy Dodd, it’s the achievement of a lifelong dream to open a gym in Patterson, where she has served as a track and volleyball coach for several years. For more information, call (209) 485-1950.

Have an item for Business Beat? Contact Patty Guerra at The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352; (209) 578-2343; or pguerra@modbee.com.

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