More Stores Open on Thanksgiving (But Most Should Avoid Shopping This Weekend)

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 28 2013 10:30 AM

More Stores Open on Thanksgiving (But Most Should Avoid Shopping This Weekend)

156846622
People shop at a Target on Thanksgiving night November 22, 2012

Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Retailers are getting desperate. With six fewer shopping days this year than in 2012, stores are trying to make up for lost time and for many the answer has been to open on Thanksgiving for the first time ever. That means the long-discussed “creep” into Thanksgiving is a thing of the past as for many retailers the creep has turned into a full blown invasion. For many, Black Friday now starts on Thanksgiving itself. And for some, as early as 6 a.m. After Macy’s said it would end a 155-year-old tradition and open on Thanksgiving, a slew of other retailers followed suit, including Kohl’s and J.C. Penney, reports Reuters. Others are opening on Thanksgiving, but later in the day, including Toys R Us and Wal-Mart.

The move has created lots of backlash online but, so far at least, retailers aren’t seeing that translate into fewer sales. Nearly 33 million people will go shopping on Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail federation. That’s a fraction of the 97 million people who will go to the stores on Black Friday but still enough to make it worthwhile for retailers. Whether the “discount frenzy” is a boost to the company’s bottom line is open to debate, notes USA Today. Some companies acknowledge promotions hurt their margins, while experts say the earlier shopping times simply gets consumers to spread out their purchases, not to actually spend more.

Advertisement

In three states though, the whole issue is moot and retail workers don’t have to worry about being forced to work on Thanksgiving Day. Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts have so-called “blue laws” that prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores and department stores from opening on Turkey Day, reports the Associated Press.  

What about shoppers? Turns out, when looking at the fine print, the deals may not be that great in the first place. Writing in Forbes, Michael Levin calls Black Friday “the fool’s shopping day.” Sure, there are a few eye-popping deals like $50 TVs but those willing to camp out snap those up in a heartbeat. The other discounts really aren’t that great. “On Black Friday, retailers have virtually no incentive to deeply discount merchandise because consumer demand already exists,” writes Levin. Instead, shoppers may be better off waiting until mid-December when retailers could end up offering even steeper discounts.

That doesn’t mean that those willing to stand in the freezing cold for hours can’t get great deals. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Janet Cho writes an amusing account of her experience covering black Fridays throughout the years and recounts the story of one man who stood in line for 18 hours outside Best Buy. Was it worth it? He “scored three laptops, a wireless printer, a Flip Video camera, a Fable III video game for Xbox 360 and a Smallville DVD, all for just over $1,077,” writes Cho.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

TODAY IN SLATE

The World

How Canada’s Shooting Tragedies Have Shaped Its Gun Control Politics

Where Ebola Lives Between Outbreaks

Gunman Killed Inside Canadian Parliament; Soldier Shot at National Monument Dies

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Paul Farmer: Up to 90 Percent of Ebola Patients Should Survive

Is he right?

Science

“I’m Not a Scientist” Is No Excuse

Politicians brag about their ignorance while making ignorant decisions.

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

In Praise of 13th Grade: Why a Fifth Year of High School Is a Great Idea 

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.