Walmart Moves Black Friday Up to Thanksgiving Night

Discussion
Nov 11, 2011
George Anderson

Who needs to wait for Black Friday to kick off the holiday selling season when you can open your stores on Thanksgiving evening? After all, consumers will be well-rested after their turkey day naps.

“Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we’re going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S. in a statement. “We’ll have this season’s hottest gifts at prices only Walmart can provide. And by sharing our Black Friday specials earlier than ever, we hope to make buying decisions easier for parents working hard to give their families the Christmas they deserve.”

Walmart has announced that at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day it will open its stores with special offers on toys, home items and clothing. As Black Friday opens at midnight, the chain will then offer special promotions on consumer electronics.

Walmart is not the only retailer to open stores on Thanksgiving. The Gap, for example, plans to open about 1,000 of it stores that day.

Tom Julian, president of the retail consultancy Tom Julian Group, told CNNMoney that he expects others to do the same.

“I expect there will be more Thanksgiving openings from other groups as a result,” he said. “It’s a marketing maneuver for those that really want to own Thanksgiving to Black Friday.”

Discussion Question: How long do you think it will be before most large retailers are open on Thanksgiving Day? Will opening stores on Thanksgiving lead to an increase in overall holiday season revenues?

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22 Comments on "Walmart Moves Black Friday Up to Thanksgiving Night"


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David Livingston
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I hope they all do soon so the crowds on Black Friday are not so big.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

There is no question we are seeing more and more holiday backward “creep” as retailers seek to one up each other to capture sales from those who see Christmas shopping as an adventure and treasure hunt. How long will it take before some retailers decide 5 p.m. is a good opening time on Thanksgiving and someone else ups them by opening at 1 p.m.? Unfortunately I don’t think it will take that long. I did note that HLN was running a story on the backlash that is occurring in some areas. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the full context of the story.

The bottom line is total sales are not likely to increase but retailers are not concerned with total industry sales, but their sales. No question that there is a firm belief that the earlier and longer I am open, the more sales I can capture.

David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Good move by Walmart moving the opening up to 10 p.m. They will do much better getting off to an earlier start. For many consumers, 10 p.m. is much more practical than midnight or 4 a.m.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

It would be a shame. People really gain benefit from spending time with their families. The shoppers CHOOSE to go, the workers HAVE to go.

I don’t like it at all, but it’s coming.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 5 months ago

Retailers, like sheep, will herd into Thanksgiving Day openings to compete with the merchandising cruelty of the Bentonville Basher. Even though Kmart has been opened on Thanksgiving in the past, it hasn’t caused the rush that Walmart’s 10 P.M. opening will create. To wit: “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?” Everybody!

Overall holiday season revenues will be solid but not exceptional. While materialism reigns mightily within American hearts, discretionary money is still tight and caution tugs at consumers’ budgets. Still the never-ending retail race without a finish line will go on aggressively.

Phil Rubin
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Walmart has no choice but to open early in order to eke out a sales gain. That said, we’re skeptical that “customers told us…” Either way, we are over the precipice and it’s only a matter of time before the retail followers do just what WMT is doing. It’s worth noting that leaders like Nordstrom remain steadfast in not going “Christmas” until after Thanksgiving.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
9 years 5 months ago
Shoppers tend to put off purchasing today what they can purchase tomorrow and shopping behavior tends to adapt to changes in retail operations. So while this tactical move will have a short-term benefit in terms of sales within this time period, it is unlikely to increase the industry’s revenues this season. It has more to do with Walmart’s long-term strategy in regaining marketshare. Walmart was one of the first grocery operators to begin 24 hour store operations. That move assisted Walmart in gaining additional marketshare by helping to further position them as a single source shopping solution to a larger portion of the marketplace. Many other major retailers followed Walmart’s practice and 24 hour operations became more common. Walmart’s recent moves to reinstate their lay-away, broaden their assortments, reinvigorate their price leadership and in-stocks demonstrate their dedication to reversing their marketshare losses. The decision to open on Thanksgiving night and lead with Black Friday specials will be a similar catalyst to other major retailers and they will likely follow suit in order to counter the… Read more »
Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Why should retailers ever close? They are already paying for the real estate. The primary expense of staying open is staff. But when all stores stay open all the time, will there be anything special about an event like Black Friday? Will sales really go up based on hours opened or will it take deeper and deeper discounts to attract customers?

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

As I mentioned recently when panelists discussed Macy’s and Target’s midnight openings, I can see most big retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day within five years. But there is a degree of “mutually assured destruction” in the early-opening arms race. The CEO of Best Buy recently commented that he was planning to open at midnight on Black Friday — begrudgingly, and in response to the competition — but was deeply concerned about the effect on store managers’ and associates’ morale.

And the “doorbusters” that have traditionally driven early Black Friday business lose all sense of urgency if they are available all day Thursday in stores and online. We’ll have to see what sort of color is provided along with November comp-sales reports to see whether this tactic works or not.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m sorry, but it sickens me to see this happening, because families can no longer enjoy time together on Thanksgiving anymore. A lot of folks HAVE to work on Thanksgiving at Walmart and soon to follow, all the other BIG BOX stores, who just don’t care about anything except their precious bottom line.

I’m prouder than ever to be an independent grocer that still recognizes certain days to completely shut down so families can gather to relax and break bread. Am I a dinosaur? Absolutely in some respects, but I don’t like what is transpiring in retail today. I’m venting I know, but it is a real jungle out there, and we all need time to chill, and have a good meal together, but the Big Machine sees it different.

To those who honor the Thanksgiving Holiday for their employees, thank you and God Bless.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 5 months ago

So much for “This season we expect to be less promotional.”

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
9 years 5 months ago

It is no surprise that the physical retailers are extending their hours and yes, I expect to see it continue and expand. Their online competition is already 24 x 7 and using time based deals to target the marketshare/revenue of the shoppers that traditionally make the Black Friday store pilgrimages.

Anne Howe
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

If this craziness continues we’re going to have a nation full of snarky retail associates who will be less and less willing to help shoppers because the industry has moved too far into controlling their lives, even on national holidays. I agree with Best Buy management, at least they expressed some concern for the well-being of their associates.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Paula hit it out of the park with her comment. I absolutely agree it is the employee who has no choice. The employee must be at work or have no job the next day. All this while the big cheeses are home enjoying the day resting and with family. This is sad that we have become so afraid of missing out on a “deal” that we leave our family in the middle of a holiday night.

The question is, how long until the other sheep fall in line? I give it 15 minutes.

Dennis Serbu
Guest
Dennis Serbu
9 years 5 months ago

I am with Tony on this. One less day with the family to focus on the thanks we should be giving for all that we have in this country. Let’s go shopping instead. Mom spends all day cooking and cleaning, serving and cleaning again, only to jump in the car at 9:00 and head to the stores.

Can’t we show a little restraint?

Gary Dispensa
Guest
Gary Dispensa
9 years 5 months ago

If all chains open on Thanksgiving, the term “Black Friday” will disappear. There will be a new term, “Black Thursday,” as shoppers herd into stores hell bent on getting their “bargains.” Thanksgiving will be just another forgotten day when families had time to focus a few hours on their blessings – a quaint reminder of a bygone time. The pursuit of the almighty buck will win out over all.

Lee Peterson
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Hopefully this will not happen. What most people don’t think about is that retailers need to give their associates time with family just like other businesses do. The addiction to an extra few bucks is pretty pathetic in my book. Stop the madness, get human!

David Slavick
Guest
David Slavick
9 years 5 months ago
What is the surprise in any of this? So how does asking employees to work the night of a holiday when they should be enjoying their well deserved time off square with the 5 point summary from earlier this week on how to keep employees happy without any real cash compensation? It is a sad indictment of our society. A lack of respect for personal time that for at least a few days each year a retail salesperson, stock clerk, cashier or service desk employee can rest/relax and not think about work. Is this a trend? Absolutely. Will it hurt sales? No. Does it “water down” promotional urgency? No. Giving the consumer “new news” about operating hours and offering to serve their needs 24/7 is no different than having your website open 24/7 – it’s just that the employees — both front and back-end — at corporate are held accountable a few more days of the year. Give those employees a bonus for working Easter Sunday, Memorial Day, July 4th, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
9 years 5 months ago

There are morning people and there are night people. Some people can function at four thirty in the morning; I know I can’t. If I feel compelled to shop between 10 pm on Thanksgiving night and 6 am on Black Friday morning — and believe me, I don’t — I vote for 10 pm.

But I’ll also plan to steer clear of any major shopping centers on my way home from my turkey on Thanksgiving night. The traffic will likely be brutal.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Forget Thanksgiving, how long will it be before they’re (nearly all) open on Christmas itself? I think the only question is what will be the excuse…er, reason offered: will it be sales are so good that they want to take advantage of an extra day, or sales are so bad they’re hoping to salvage something? (Of course the actual statement will be to the effect that they’re only thinking of the customers’ convenience.)

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Opening on Thanksgiving is a given as long as the internet remains open on Thanksgiving.

New competition requires new ways of thinking and operating — however unpopular it may seem. Success belongs to those who serve their customer.

Mike Tierno
Guest
Mike Tierno
9 years 5 months ago

I’m not surprised that Walmart leads the way with this “creep” — anything to eke out another penny or two. Does opening at 10:00 pm mean folks will be skipping Thanksgiving dinner to line up outside the stores? Or will they be having Thanksgiving dinner while in line? A new family tradition, and maybe an opportunity for an entrepreneur with a mobile restaurant.

I think there is an opportunity for a courageous industry leader to step up and start the pendulum swinging the other way by taking the high road and opening traditional hours Friday morning. As the lone, dominant player in a coveted category, Best Buy is an ideal candidate.

How about making the Thanksgiving evening sales cash-only?

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