Retailers getting head start on Black Friday

Localization of trend of black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving.

Posted on Nov. 26, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 26, 2013 at 5:51 p.m.

Should we now call Thanksgiving “Black Thursday?”

An Elkhart Verizon store even hung a “Black Wednesday” sign in its window earlier this week.

The mad rush for bargains at area retailers, historically the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season that once drew pre-dawn lines of shoppers the day after Thanksgiving, has crept further into the holiday itself this year. Most big-box retailers will begin their “door buster” deals Thursday evening, Nov. 28.

For the first time this year, the National Retail Federation polled shoppers on whether they plan to shop on Thanksgiving. Nearly a quarter of the 147 million people who said they planned to shop this weekend, or 33 million people, said they will start on Thursday.

Concord Mall is launching its second annual “All Night Shopping Party” at 8 p.m. Thursday, three hours earlier than last year’s 11 p.m. start. Mall spokeswoman Deb Alwine attributed the change to plans by the mall’s two anchor stores, Carson’s and JC Penney, to open at 8 p.m. instead of midnight. The mall will hand out free gift bags, containing gift cards, merchandise and coupons, to the first 500 shoppers who line up at the mall’s front doors.

Shoppers will have to decide between those gift bags and the anchor stores’ door buster deals, which will require them to line up at the store’s exterior entrances.

The mall has booked local rock band Blammo to play at center court from 9 p.m. to midnight.

“They are very popular so we’re looking for a great turnout,” Alwine said. “I appreciate what we’re trying to do because it really keeps the employees and the shoppers entertained.”

Alwine said she thinks most people will have finished celebrating the holiday with their families by 8 p.m.

“That’s why we’re doing all the entertainment, trying to make it a family fun event,” she said.

But the trend isn’t sitting well with Ruby McKinney, 65, of Elkhart.

“I don’t like that at all,” McKinney said Tuesday after doing some shopping at the Goshen Kohl’s. “I think that’s time they should be home with their families. As a matter of fact, I won’t shop at those stores on Thanksgiving. I don’t think its fair to their employees, and I know that because I worked retail for 20 years.”

McKinney said she thinks it will be mainly younger adults who start shopping on the holiday, possibly because they weren’t raised with the same family values that she was.

“It’s a shame it has to be like that,” she said. “It’s all about the merchandise. This is the time of year (retailers) are trying to play catch up for money they’ve lost throughout the year.”

The NFR has noted that this shopping season will be six days shorter because the holiday falls on the latest possible Thursday, the first time that has happened since 2002.

Kaile Marcum, 25, of Shipshewana, said she planned to Black Friday shop this year for the first time, but she won’t begin until 4 a.m. Friday. She offered to work her cashier job at a convenience store/gas station until 11 p.m. Thursday night.

“Our Thanksgiving dinner is at 1 o’clock,” she said. “I was like, ‘I’ll work and take the extra money. I don’t really want to be working on Thanksgiving either but I’d rather be making money than spending money.”

Marcum said she is not bothered by the retail event’s encroachment on the holiday.

“More power to them, it just isn’t my cup of tea,” she said of bargain-hunting on Thanksgiving. “I’d rather be in my sweat pants eating leftovers.”


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