Black Thursday is the New Black Friday, But Will It Really Boost Sales?

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Shoppers in a shopping cart jam looking for 'Door Buster' Christmas deals at Toys ''R'' Us on Thanksgiving Day in Royal Palm Bea
Alamy
It's beginning to feel like the retail industry expects us to wrap up our Thanksgiving dinners and take them to go.

Toys R Us, Best Buy (BBY), and Target (TGT) became the latest retailers to announce that they would be opening on Thursday -- or opening earlier on Thursday -- this pivotal holiday shopping season.
  • Toys "R" Us will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than last year.
  • Best Buy will greet turkey-fueled shoppers at 6 p.m. with its slate of deals on consumer electronics.
  • Target -- after opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving last year -- will kick open the doors to its cheap chic stores at 8 p.m.
With so many retailers breaking into their holiday selling seasons on Thanksgiving, is it time to retire Black Friday?

Creeping Earlier

Last month it was Walmart (WMT) and Macy's (M) turning heads with their Thanksgiving night openings. Critics argued that it wasn't fair to make employees come in early on the holiday -- or to disrupt festive family fetes to woo shoppers -- but there's naturally another side to the story.

Employees hungry for more hours welcome the additional time on the clock that's often paid at a higher rate than their hourly wages. They have holiday gifts to shop for too, after all.

Nor are Shoppers universally panning the earlier "Black Thursday" sales. Many didn't consider it a treat to head out to stores at midnight or during the wee hours on Friday morning. Missing out on pumpkin pie, Uncle Nestor's story about how he was almost a member of The Beatles, or what should be meaningless game between the Ravens and Steelers may be easy sacrifices to make in exchange for the ability to sleep in Friday morning and still get the deals.

Blame It On the Calendar

Sears Holdings' (SHLD) Kmart has been opening on Thanksgiving for 22 years, and rivals didn't seem to care until the past few years. However, even Kmart came under attack earlier this year for its decision to open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

Why is Kmart leading retailers to open earlier this holiday season? You may as well blame the calendar.

Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday of November, and this year, that just happens to be Nov. 28. That's the latest possible day for the holiday, making Nov. 29 the latest possible Black Friday.

It goes without saying that retailers live for the holiday shopping season. An attempt to combat the late start this year by opening their doors a day -- or at the very least a few hours -- earlier than usual almost makes sense.

Looking Out to Next Yeat

Retailers won't divulge their plans for 2014 until at least next October.

Thanksgiving 2014 will also happen relatively late -- Nov. 27 -- giving stores plenty of incentive to do anything possible to milk sales early in the season. If one retailer or another looks poised to lock up some holiday shopping lists with an earlier-than-ever sale, you can be sure that rivals will be quick to keep up.

However, the biggest factor determining if retailers' operating hours continue to creep earlier into Thanksgiving Thursday will be if the move was successful this time.

Chains that opened on Thanksgiving last year didn't necessarily see dramatic upticks in comparable-store sales. Walmart and Sears didn't even keep pace with inflation. However, with so many chains giving it a go this year, the retail market will have plenty of data to answer the question of whether or not opening on Thanksgiving was a win -- or a waste.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.

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15 Comments

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red4512

if peoples would not go out to shop the stores would not have a reason to opend their doors...then no one would have a reason to work

November 14 2013 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to red4512's comment
willypfistergash

If peoples would get thems GEDs, we might have fewer illiterates like yourself.

November 14 2013 at 11:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
willypfistergash

Will liquor stores be open?

November 13 2013 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
unitedpaintings

The retailers are require to serve the greedy Liberal Democrats by offering tons of cheap Chinese crap that they want.

November 13 2013 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jgasreltibbetts

Not when we have No money on Red Wednesday.....

November 13 2013 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Artie

This country and some of it's major retailers are getting more inane each year. They have Christmas stuff out in August, for God's sake. They just can't seem to wait for these holidays, as if putting this stuff out earlier and earlier is going to interest ANYONE who is "normal." As far as opening stores on Thanksgiving...C'mon folks....really??? With computers you can shop online any hour of the day. No one is going to convince me that by opening on Thanksgiving we're helping anyone. People should be home with their families...this is just absurd. If you want to know what is so totally wrong with this country...just follow the money trail. Enough already!!!

November 13 2013 at 11:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
unitedpaintings

If there is demand, there will be supply.

November 13 2013 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to unitedpaintings's comment
dweeeb.buster

I think the reason the dumbest 1%ers are so terrified of retailers opening on Thanksgiving is the dumb ones fear that they will forget they are supposed to be spending the day at home with family, and accidentally show up at Walmart to slobber all over the merchandise they are unable to purchase.

November 13 2013 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dweeeb.buster's comment
dweeeb.buster

On Thanksgiving Day, I'll be telling family members jokes about the poster child of the dumbest 1 percent, and then directing them to Daily Finance where they can laugh hysterically at the staggering stupidity you post.

November 13 2013 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
moretrorun

I hope they don't take in a dime. It's a holiday.

November 13 2013 at 10:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dweeeb.buster

No wonder all the dumbest 1%ers have been wringing their hands and gnashing their tooth.

With retailers catering to the desires of their customers and employees, what is this world coming too?

November 13 2013 at 9:47 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pdbliz

WHAT EVER HAPPEN TO ,,,WHITE FRIDAY.?????
SOUNDS LIKE RACISUM TO ME.!!!!

November 13 2013 at 9:36 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dweeeb.buster

Wait a minute. You mean there are actually workers hungry for more hours at higher wages? And shoppers that prefer the extended hours?

Will the dumbest 1% EVER get ANYTHING right?

November 13 2013 at 9:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply