Some Retailers Pull Back From Black Friday Race

Call it Black Friday fatigue.

With stores racing to open ever earlier on Thanksgiving (Wal-Mart’s doors will open at 10 p.m.!), a backlash is growing, with some retailers and analysts questioning the madness.

“The lunacy of opening at 12 midnight or even earlier on Thanksgiving evening shows that this whole Black Friday thing has run out of legs,” said IDC Retail Insights program director Greg Girard. “Black Friday is a race to the bottom, and it’s just become another ad avenue.”

Other analysts think this year's extended hours are meant to distract shoppers from a lack of exciting inventory.

“If you build it, they will come,” said NPD Group chief industry analyst Marshal Cohen, “but they won’t come in the dead of night. To me, you’re not going to sell more product just because you’re open more hours. It’s more of a smoke screen than it is a solution to the issue.”

This year, some stores are choosing not to take extreme measures to lure in bargain-hungry customers as they kick off a season that is expected to bring in about $465.6 billion in sales, a modest 2.8 percent increase over last year.

Sears, for one, has decided to pass on the trend for midnight openings set by big-box retailers including Best Buy, Kohls and Target. Toys 'R' Us is opening at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night, an hour ahead of Wal-Mart.

Last year, Sears chose to keep its doors open on Thanksgiving from 7 a.m. until noon, with the idea that shoppers would come in early to rack up a few deals and then head home to their families for a midday meal.

But while the company did have good numbers that day, “The customer feedback was very clear,” said Sears spokesman Tom Aiello. “The customers liked the deals, but they didn’t like the idea of Thanksgiving shorted as a holiday.”

So the chain will revert to its original plan to open at 4 a.m. on Friday. “I think there’s a group of customers that don’t aspire to get up in the middle of the night,” Aiello said.

Retail chain JC Penneyalso decided to stick with a 4 a.m. opening time this year so employees can spend Thanksgiving with friends and family, according to a company spokesman.

Employees at Target and Best Buy have launched petition drives on the website protesting the early openings. “A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day,” wrote petition creator Anthony Hardwick, who identifies himself as a Target employee.

Some local retailers are still undecided on their Black Friday hours and will make last-minute decisions, according to Cohen.

Others are resisting the bonanza that is Black Friday altogether—or at least, they engage in more subtlety. Seattle-based retail chain Nordstrom has avoided opening its doors on Thanksgiving throughout the company’s history and in recent years has posted signs in its stores that read, “One holiday at a time.”

Nordstrom waits until the morning of Black Friday to unveil its Christmas decorations, though it will open doors early that morning in some locations.

“It’s not as in your face,” said Forrester vice president and senior analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, “but there’s a reason that Thanksgiving weekend that people work longer hours and [the stores] pull out all the stops as far as offering sales and promotions—because that’s the nature of that weekend.”

Analyst Greg Girard of IDC said Black Friday is virtually absent from the websites of brand-oriented stores like Gap, Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor.

"And they’re doing something much more surgical in that they’re moving towards direct communications, like text messaging to consumers," he said. "They’re getting to consumers with whom they have a longer lifetime relationship."

Nordstrom, like many higher-end stores, doesn’t rely as heavily on Black Friday to make or break its sales year. Black Friday “is among our most high volume days. But it isn’t our largest sales day of the year, unlike many retailers,” said Nordstrom spokesman Colin Johnson.

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  • by Please and Thank You Location: Greenville on Nov 20, 2011 at 08:44 AM
    I worked in retail for years while in highschool and college.. Do shoppers really have no idea how much a company marks up the price on their " sale items". What costs them $10 they mark up to $30 and then sell for $24.99. You really aren't getting a bargin. Especially when you stand in line all night to buy 1 of 10 TV's or computers that they have on sale. Not worth the aggrevation. Rare shop closer to Christmas when the stores realize they are not going to make their quota for the season and start doing real markdowns.
    • reply
      by Formerly O.L.I. on Nov 20, 2011 at 11:40 AM in reply to Please and Thank You
      Great information! Much as I suspected too. Thanks for sharing.
      • reply
        by 40some on Nov 20, 2011 at 06:28 PM in reply to Formerly O.L.I.
        Even better, wait til after C-mas to get what you want for you. When is it the retailers have to pay taxes on their inventory? 25-30th, last few days of the year.
        • reply
          by Formerly O.L.I. on Nov 22, 2011 at 02:33 PM in reply to 40some
          You just provided some very valuable information!
  • by menenc Location: pantego on Nov 20, 2011 at 05:31 AM
    Give me cyber Monday! Let people have Thanksgiving with their families!
  • by william Location: rocky mount on Nov 19, 2011 at 09:50 PM
    Thank God somebody's coming to their senses. If people keep lining up for these "huge sales" then you know the retailers will provide. Employers and shoppers have zero consideration for the people who have to work on these days. American greed! WWJB? (What would Jesus buy?)
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Nov 19, 2011 at 09:16 PM
    Where are the Occupy Movement in NC protesters? On store greed in NC? LOL
    • reply
      by 40some on Nov 20, 2011 at 06:23 PM in reply to Wolfgang
      They'll be in line for the latest electronic gadget, complaining that it should be free.
  • by Anonymous on Nov 19, 2011 at 07:42 PM
    just wait.someone told me today walmart was going to start being open on christmas.thats just greed.i was in walmart today and all you people thats going to be there when the doors open watch 1 item they have on sale that day and see how much the price goes up before the sale or how many items are on the shelves now compared to that day.I have only went shopping on black friday 1 time and I dont see why all the madness is about.
  • by Less Time on Nov 19, 2011 at 06:56 PM
    It is sad that retailers would take more time from their employees that they would be able to spend with their families. Thanksgiving should be spent with your family, not selling to the ones who are off shopping that day. Spend time at HOME with your families, you may find you have more important things to do!
  • by Patsy Cline on Nov 19, 2011 at 04:37 PM
    It's worth it to me to pay more in order to stay out of the crazy crowds and getting run over (same with Tax Free weekend). I did "Black Friday" 2x and it was a bust each time. There is NOTHING I need to buy in order to stand in line at 2am for.
  • by lyn Location: martin county on Nov 19, 2011 at 01:14 PM
    I with family, have stood in line at Target (brought out Hot Choclate for the shopers in line), K-Mart (coffee), Wal-Mart, Roses,Sears, Toys R us, and many others at different times over the years. At Roses it was a pile of Cabbage Patch Dolls and people helping others find 'their' doll. Standing in line and talking with complete strangers about the good deals. It has been 4 years since I was out there. The people have changed. Fighting in line and arguing with cashiers, throwing game boys over the counter to others who can not get into the area, pushing, shoving and for what. the deals are no where near as good as they used to want some good deals. let the shoppers stay home until about a week before Christmas. Stores will be worried about their inventory and lower the price. if you go, have fun and watch out for the thugs and self centered people. they will get what they want at your expense.
    • reply
      by Formerly O.L.I. on Nov 19, 2011 at 03:29 PM in reply to lyn
      Lots of truth to your post. Lots of public stores used to have CIVILIZED shoppers, but added to the mix are some real uneducated, ill-mannered, ill-bred and greedy persons, and you've got a wild bunch to deal with. I'm glad my family's holiday does not base it's values in material things. Rather, we choose to remember our holiday as a Day of Thanksgiving, and try to extend that to those less fortunate. I do support taking a gift request off the tree at Walmart for a child in need. That is so nice, and Toys For Tots sponsored by the Marine Corps each year. It isn't all about 'stuff' for ourselves; it's about being a civilized human being and giving to others.
    • reply
      by 40some on Nov 20, 2011 at 06:25 PM in reply to lyn
      Greenville or Kinston?
  • by Bill Location: W'ville on Nov 19, 2011 at 09:34 AM
    But they have Snuggies on sale!
    • reply
      by ECUMOM65 on Nov 19, 2011 at 04:38 PM in reply to Bill
      Snuggies are the bomb!! and I was one who thought they were the STUPIDEST product ever put on the market! My husband bought me one and I thought to myself why the heck did he buy this!!! I'm wearing one now!! LOL.
  • by pete Location: grifton on Nov 19, 2011 at 08:44 AM
    Better be packing your gun's to shop those hours.especially in greenville,rocky mount and kinston.
    • reply
      by MAC on Nov 19, 2011 at 06:17 PM in reply to pete
      You Got That Right!!
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