Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

November 29, 2013

Holiday shopping season gets extra-early start

Thanksgiving becomes ‘Black Thursday’

VALDOSTA — As more than a dozen major retailers from Target to Toys R Us opened on Thanksgiving Day, shoppers across the country got a jump start on holiday shopping. The Thanksgiving openings came despite planned protests across the country from workers’ groups that are against employees missing Thanksgiving meals at home.

 More than 200 people stood in line at the Toys R Us store in Manhattan before its 5 p.m. opening.

 Green Bryant was first in line at 10 a.m. The restaurant manager ended up buying a dollhouse for $129 — $30 off — a Barbie doll and a LeapFrog learning system. Bryant, 28, said she didn’t miss Thanksgiving festivities but was going home to cook a Thanksgiving meal for her two children.

 “It was worth it,” she said. “Now I gotta go home and cook.”

 At a Target store in Brooklyn, N.Y., about 25 people were waiting in line at 2:50 p.m. for the 8 p.m. opening, an hour earlier than a year ago.

 Theresa Alcantaro, 35, a crossing guard, was waiting with her 12-year-old son to buy an Xbox One. It wasn’t on sale, but supplies have been scarce. She was missing a gathering of 40 family members but said she would meet up after shopping. She hoped to be in and out by 9 p.m.

 “Honestly if I can get a good deal, I do not mind,” she said about Thanksgiving day shopping. “I see my family every day. They understand.”

 After shopping at Target and meeting up with her family, she planned to go back out again at midnight with family members but wasn’t sure where yet.

 The holiday openings are a break with tradition. The day after Thanksgiving, called Black Friday, for a decade had been considered the official start to the holiday buying season. It’s also typically the biggest shopping day of the year.

 But in the past few years, retailers have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night. They’ve also pushed up discounting that used to be reserved for Black Friday into early November, which has led retail experts to question whether the Thanksgiving openings will steal some of Black Friday’s thunder.

 In fact, Thanksgiving openings took a bite out of Black Friday sales last year: Sales on turkey day were $810 million last year, an increase of 55 percent from the previous year as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak. But sales dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year.

 “Black Friday is now Gray Friday,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy. “It’s been pulled all the way to the beginning of November.”

 Stores are trying to get shoppers to buy in an economy that’s still challenging. While the job and housing markets are improving, that hasn’t yet translated into sustained spending increases among most shoppers.

 Overall, the National Retail Federation expects retail sales to be up 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion during the last two months of the year. That’s higher than last year’s 3.5 percent growth, but below the 6 percent pace seen before the recession.

 Analysts expect sales to be generated at the expense of profits as retailers will likely have to do more discounting to get people into stores.  More than two dozen stores including Wal-Mart and Kohl’s have already lowered their profit outlooks for the year.

 Shoppers’ financial stress was apparent at the stores on Thursday.

 “I struggle a lot,” said Adriana Tavaraz, 51, from the Bronx who had spent $100 buying holiday decor for herself and her family on Thanksgiving at a Kmart in Manhattan’s Midtown section. “Nowadays, you have to think about what you spend. You have to think about tomorrow.”

 Tavaraz, who works at a travel agency, started saving for holiday presents in June and planned to spend a total of $200 for holiday presents. She noted her holiday budget was tight because she was grappling with higher costs like food and monthly rent, which rose $100 to $1,700 this year.

 The Thanksgiving openings are part of retailers’ holiday strategy of trying to lure shoppers in early and often during the holiday shopping season. But the stores face challenges in doing that.

 Some workers have petitions on change.org to protest against Target and Best Buy. The Retail Action Project, a labor-backed group of retail workers, also is planning to have members visiting customers at stores including Gap and Victoria’s Secret in the Manhattan borough of New York City to educate them about the demands on workers.

 Wal-Mart has been the biggest target for protests against holiday hours. Most of the company’s stores are open 24 hours, but the retailer is starting its sales events at 6 p.m. on Thursday, two hours earlier than last year.

 The issue is part of a broader campaign against the company’s treatment of workers that’s being waged by a union-backed group called OUR Walmart, which includes former and current workers. The group is staging demonstrations and walkouts at hundreds of stores around the country on Black Friday.

 Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said the discounter has received “really good feedback” from employees about working the holiday.

 Wal-Mart said workers get additional holiday pay for working on Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart is also serving meals at the stores and is giving employees a 25 percent discount on a single purchase.

 But Wal-Mart worker Cindy Murray, 57, shrugs off the perks and said she won’t be able to sit down for a Thanksgiving meal with her family until after her nine-hour shift ends at 4 p.m. Murray says the company can’t put a price on the holiday.

 “If they want to do something for us, they will go back to the old tradition,” said Murray, who lives in Hyettsville, Md.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • blood drive.jpg Give Blood

    Give Blood

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man arrested in Valdosta drug raid

    Man arrested in Valdosta drug raid

    August 1, 2014

  • Taiwan Gas Explosions_Stew.jpg Gas explosions in Taiwan

    At least 24 people were killed and 271 others injured when several underground gas explosions ripped through Taiwan’s second-largest city overnight, hurling concrete through the air and blasting long trenches in the streets, authorities said Friday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration Overload_Roge.jpg Immigration courts speed up children’s cases

    Immigration courts are speeding up hearings for the tens of thousands of Central American children caught on the U.S. border after criticism that the backlogged system is letting immigrants stay in the country for years while waiting for their cases to be heard.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Extra jurors seated for long Ga. salmonella trial

    After three days of jury selection, a panel with plenty of extra members was seated Thursday to hear the case of three people charged in connection with a deadly salmonella outbreak traced to a southwest Georgia peanut plant five years ago.

    August 1, 2014

  • Liberia West Africa E_Roge.jpg Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths

    The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone’s capital Thursday looking for patients and others exposed to the disease.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palest_Roge.jpg U.S., U.N. announce deal on Gaza cease-fire

    Israel and Hamas have agreed to a 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire beginning Friday, during which time there will be negotiations on a more durable truce in the 24-day-old Gaza war, the United States and United Nations announced Thursday.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Congress_Stew.jpg Congress oks VA, highway bills, not border measure

    Congress ran full-tilt into election-year gridlock over immigration Thursday and staggered toward a five-week summer break after failing to agree on legislation to cope with the influx of young immigrants flocking illegally to the United States.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wisconsin Unions_Stew.jpg Wisconsin Supreme Court upholds union law

    The fight over Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s signature policy achievement, a law effectively ending collective bargaining for most public employees, ended Thursday with the state Supreme Court declaring it to be constitutional.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Today in History

    In 1714, Britain's Queen Anne died at age 49; she was succeeded by George I.

    August 1, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results