Biz Beat

Stores taking varied stands on Black Friday/Thursday

Shoppers line up out outside the entrance to Vintage Faire Mall near the Apple store, waiting for it to open Thanksgiving night in 2010.
Shoppers line up out outside the entrance to Vintage Faire Mall near the Apple store, waiting for it to open Thanksgiving night in 2010. Modesto Bee file

Well, it’s a week and a half before Halloween. So let’s talk about Black Friday.

Vintage Faire Mall this week released its plan for holiday hours. It includes opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24. That’s an hour later than Macy’s, which announced this week that it will open at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving.

The mall will stay open through Black Friday, until 10 p.m.

When I worked retail, way back in the day, Black Friday was a big deal but it wasn’t the phenomenon it became. I remember thinking it was crazy I had to be at work at 7 a.m. to open at 8. Now, that’s halfway through the day. In 2010, Vintage Faire Mall decided to open at midnight on Black Friday. I headed out there, wondering if anybody would show up. Show up they did, in droves.

That enthusiasm – and the dollars spent – encouraged malls and stores to creep Black Friday ever backward into the day before it, Thanksgiving. It’s understandable: the historic kickoff to the holiday shopping season is vitally important to retailers who are increasingly competing with online sellers. But infringing on what’s considered the most American of holidays has come with a good amount of controversy: online petitions to Target, asking the retail giant to stay closed on Thanksgiving, garnered millions of signatures.

There have been some changes. The Mall of America, the nation’s biggest shopping center, announced earlier this month it will remain closed on Thanksgiving. Other retailers, including Home Depot, Lowe’s, Burlington Stores and TJ Maxx made the same decision, according to the website theblackfriday.com, which tracks these things.

“We think Thanksgiving is a day for families and for people we care about,” Jill Renslow, the Bloomington, Minn., mall’s senior vice president of marketing, told The Associated Press. “We want to give this day back.”

That’s admirable, of course. But for some families, shopping has become as much a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey and stuffing. Target officials then said that they ask for volunteers to work the holiday – the additional pay surely serves as an incentive. And for all the vitriol aimed at retailers, there are plenty of people who regularly work holidays: public safety employees, health care workers, military members, restaurant workers, and movie theater employees, and ... journalists.

Target, Walmart and Best Buy have not announced their Thanksgiving plans yet. When they do, I will let you know.

So, what do you think? Head out and do some shopping on Thanksgiving, or stay home, watch football and have a nap?

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