By BURTON SPEAKMAN
It’s not just the extra days that are making the holiday shopping season earlier. More retailers are moving up their opening times, and Black Friday moves deeper into Thanksgiving Day.
This year’s group of stores opening on Thanksgiving start with Old Navy, Kmart and Gander Mountain at 9 a.m. Stores such as Walmart, Sears and Toys “R” Us open at 8 p.m.
Target begins sales at 9 tonight with h.h. gregg opening at 10 p.m. and Eastwood Mall opening its doors at 11. Other places such as Southern Park Mall and Kohl’s wait until midnight to accept the flood of shopping hordes anxious for their chance to grasp deals.
Eastwood Mall is opening before the stores to allow customers to come inside and not have to wait in the cold, said Joe Bell, Cafaro Co. spokesman. The first 1,200 customers will be given gift bags with coupons and other items.
“We’re going to have music, giveaways and other forms of entertainment,” he said. “People want to make holiday shopping a festive occasion.”
While anchor stores Macy’s, Dillard’s, J.C. Penney and Sears at Southern Park Mall can set their own hours, most of the stores will open at midnight along with the mall itself.
“In response to feedback from our shoppers,” said Sheryl Raulin, Southern Park Mall director of marketing and business development, “we have decided to open our doors at midnight to accommodate eager shoppers who want to get an early start on their holiday purchases.”
More and more retailers are pushing to open earlier as a way to allow more people to shop, Bell said.
Even home-improvement stores have joined the action with Lowe’s open from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving and then reopening at midnight, and Home Depot starting sales at 5 a.m. Friday.
Not everyone seems to like the early start to the shopping season. Employees at both Target and Walmart have complained about the companies’ policies.
“These places opening up at 10 p.m. on Thursday are just ruining the whole season in my opinion,” said Peggy Emmett, general manager of The Winner store in Sharon.
The National Retail Federation is reporting that many companies are promoting their Black Friday sales in different ways including mobile-phone updates, online ads and in-store promotions.
According to Shop.org’s survey conducted by BIG-
insight, three in 10 retailers will promote their in-store Black Friday deals with mobile alerts, up significantly from the 18.4 percent who did so in 2011.
In addition, 80.6 percent will use Facebook to alert shoppers about in-store deals, an increase from 73.7 percent last year.