Black Friday was already well underway before many awoke this morning. The traditional kickoff to the holiday shopping season has become a two-day affair, with more stores opening before people put down their turkey legs on Thanksgiving. There's good reason for the creep; businesses know shoppers will only spend so much, and they want the first crack at those holiday budgets.
Years past, at the dawn of modern retail's favorite season, two kinds of holiday shoppers crawled out from the consumer masses:
• The organized, meticulous buyer checking off everyone on their list before the neighbors even pondered decking the halls.
• And — the category so many of us embrace — the proverbial procrastinator shopping for a blouse for his wife and toys for his kids before rushing home Christmas Eve to set out a tray of cookies for Santa.
Then came the lure of Black Friday deals, which soon morphed to Black Friday weekend, including Thanksgiving Day. Now a flurry of "pre-Black Friday" events both online and at the malls beckon, purporting to offer even deeper discounts to early birds.
No wonder it's sparking confusion over how to find the best sales: Shop early, shop late or shop often? If you ho-ho-hold on to your money now, will you have to pay more later when the gift-buying urge finally strikes?
That depends on what type of item you want, how picky you are and if you have a gambling nature.
BY JEFF HARRINGTON • Times Staff Writer
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Several — Dillard's, T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom among them — stay closed on the holiday. Walmart, meanwhile, is open all day on Thanksgiving, though Black Friday deals start at 6 p.m.
(On another note, Publix stores are closed, though Winn-Dixie stores are open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. for those needing last-minute grocery items).
Here's a schedule of times stores will open today:
6 a.m. Kmart
7 a.m. Big Lots, Dollar General
8 a.m. Walgreens
5 p.m.: Babies 'R' Us, Bealls, Best Buy, JCPenney, Toys 'R' Us
6 p.m.: Kohl's, Macy's, Office Depot, Sears, Staples, Target
Millions of Americans are expected to head to the stores for holiday gift shopping on Thanksgiving in what's quickly becoming a new holiday tradition.
Just a few years ago when a few stores started opened late on the holiday, the move was met with resistance from workers and shoppers who believed the day should be sacred.
Last year, more than dozen major retailers opened at some point on Thanksgiving evening. And this year, at least half of them - including Target, Macy's, Staples and J.C. Penney - are opening earlier in the evening on the holiday.
All signs point to a successful holiday shopping season. Despite the economic tail winds, though, retailers are having to work to get shoppers into stores.
Why? Five years into the economic recovery, most Americans still are struggling.
Gas prices may be near a four-year low, but Americans are paying more for food, health care and other costs. Unemployment is falling, too, but wage growth has been stagnant. And even though the financial and housing markets have improved, Americans haven't changed their deal-hungry shopping habits.
"Retail therapy is out the window for most Americans," said Ken Perkins, president of research firm RetailMetrics.
"Nice weather, good prices, extra time," said Pat Drogon, 68, of St. Petersburg, when asked what brought her out to shop on Thanksgiving. She bought a poinsettia plant and a few gifts, she said, taking advantage of a spare few hours before she had to put a ham in the over for dinner that night. It's just her and her husband at home; her daughters have moved up north.
"If I had my family — my daughters with me — I would not be shopping on Thanksgiving Day," Drogon said.
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