Thanksgiving shopping seen as a mixed bag for workers, shoppers
By Francine Knowles email@example.com November 17, 2012 10:42PM
Deal seekers camp out in front of the Best Buy on New York Street in Aurora on Thanksgiving Day 2011 as they await the store's 10 p.m. opening for Black Friday sales. | Sun-Times Media File
4 p.m. Michael’s
8 p.m. Walmart
8 p.m. KMart
8 p.m. Sears
8 p.m. Toys R Us
9 p.m. Target
10 p.m. HH Gregg
Friday, Nov. 23
12 a.m. Best Buy
12 a.m. Kohl’s
12 a.m. Old Navy
12 a.m. Dick’s
5 a.m. Lowes
5 a.m. Home Depot
5 a.m. Bass Pro Shops
5 a.m. Office Depot
5 a.m. Gordmans
6 a.m. Office Max
6 a.m. JC Penney
6 a.m. Jo-Ann
6 a.m. Radio Shack
6 a.m. Meijer
7 a.m. PetSmart
Updated: December 19, 2012 1:18PM
As more stores have decided to open on Thanksgiving Day, a backlash is building among retail workers, their families and others who say they’re taking employees away from their families.
However, some shoppers in Naperville have said they are looking forward to hitting the stores on Turkey Day.
Tens of thousands of people have signed more than 60 online petitions calling on Sears, Target and other retailers to “Save Thanksgiving” and stop the “Black Friday” creep, according to Change.org, an online petition platform. One petition launched on the site by Target employee Casey St. Clair has gathered more than 195,000 signatures so far. It calls on Target to “take the high road and save Thanksgiving.”
“What we’re seeing is regardless of what these retailers choose to do about their opening times... employees and families across the country want Black Friday to stay Black Friday, not Black Thursday,” said Change.org spokeswoman Charlotte Hill. “We’re hearing on Change.org that people want Thanksgiving to be about spending time with family, not spending cash on the latest toys or gadgets.”
Hoffman Estates-based Sears recently announced its stores will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and will stay open overnight until 10 p.m. Friday. Last year, Sears stores were closed on Thanksgiving.
Target Corp. has announced plans to open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than a year ago, Walmart will begin its holiday sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year, and Toys R Us will open at 8 p.m., an hour earlier, to kick off the holiday shopping season.
Morningstar Inc. retail analyst Paul Swinand doesn’t expect retailers to be fazed by the petitions.
“I think they’re more concerned about their customers and what they want,” he said. “I think they care about whether customers want to go shop on Thanksgiving. That’s the one thing that really matters. If you don’t want it, and I want it, the store has to make a cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth it to be open.”
Around Naperville, shoppers seem ready to go to the stores on Thanksgiving.
“About two years ago, I went to the outlet mall in Aurora with my daughter because there were some things she wanted to buy,” said Robin Leckinger, who also lives in Aurora. “We went Thursday night around 10 p.m. After we were there, it seemed sort of crazy because we got caught for 90 minutes trying to get out of the parking lot. I guess it was sort of a way to walk off Thanksgiving dinner, but I’m probably going to do it again this year.”
Whether it’s the slumping economy retailers are desperate to tap into, or just a way to get the jump on the competition, the holiday shopping season this year has clearly started earlier. Already store ads as well as email alerts are hawking “pre-Black Friday” deals, which Naperville resident Paul Lascala believes “are all about beating the competition to the punch.”
“I suppose the marketing folks feel like they have to be more aggressive in this day and age, and stores are trying to take the other guy off the street,” Lascala said. “We have seven kids in our family so I don’t know as we’ll be shopping early. I think that in spite of the Internet deals people will still be going out because there are those that still like to look at and touch things.”
The general sentiment around town seems to be if merchants are going to offer a good deal now, consumers would be foolish not to take advantage of it. Mary Bessler of Naperville said she has already made a post-Thanksgiving shopping date with her friend Bev Healy, also of Naperville, but that she won’t be putting off all her shopping until December.
“I buy things when I see them, and if it’s something appropriate for the person I am shopping for, I’m going to buy it,” Bessler said. “Frankly, having ‘Black Friday’ events before the actual day sort of helps. To me, if they are offering more specials earlier, I think it helps with your shopping. I mean, why not?”
Healy said she too plans to start early due to the fact her children are older now and require different sorts of gifts.
“I’m starting early because there are a lot of incentives on electronics this year and my kids are older and so they’re looking for more expensive toys,” she said. “If there are better prices out now, I’m going to be there at the stores. And if I can shop on the Internet early, that’s even better.”
Not everyone embraces the thought of shopping for gifts in the midst of guests coming and turkey and stuffing and side dishes having to be prepared. Kristina Hopp of Naperville considers herself a traditionalist and believes that “blurring” the holidays together compromises the significance of both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“The pre-holiday shopping isn’t going to affect me and my family and we are going out of town for the whole weekend, and in terms of shopping, I’m actually a procrastinator,” Hopp said. “I think we need to keep the holidays separate and to themselves, otherwise the whole things just sort of blurs together.
“I also don’t like the fact that stores are open this year on Thanksgiving and that means that people have to work,” Hopp added. “My feeling is that people should be home together with their families.”
Katie Wood, executive director of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, notes that “Christmas shopping seems to start earlier and earlier each year” but believes that downtown Naperville “offers a sane way to enjoy Black Friday.”
“A lot of our merchants are going to open earlier than usual after Thanksgiving, but I’m not aware of any that plan to be open at midnight that day,” she said. “Shoppers that do go out the day before are looking for the deal of a lifetime I guess, but I feel our merchants have a lot to offer without shopping at a frenetic pace.”