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Surprise! Shoppers Don't Want Black Friday To Start on Thursday

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Black Friday, long the day of the year most likely to feature a riot, trampling or other shopping disaster, will start even earlier this year as many major retailers look to open their doors on Thursday night.  

A recent story in the New York Times reports that major stores like Target, Macy’s, and Kohl’s plan to open their stores at midnight on Thanksgiving. Walmart will beat them all to the punch and open at 10 p.m.

But in a move that will surely baffle major chains, shoppers are protesting the decision. For some reason, many don’t want to skip Thanksgiving dinner to stand in line.  

We’ve already reported that concerns over consumer spending this year have caused many retailers to stretch Black Friday into Black November. With shoppers looking for ever-deeper deals and Web retailers scrambling to cater to them, many brick-and-mortar retailers feel obligated to keep up in the battle for the earliest sales.

Not every retailer is pushing sales forward with relish. For example, Best Buy chief executive Brian Dunn was quoted in the Times saying he feels terrible about making employees come in on the holiday, but competition forced his hand. Some, like Nordstrom, are refusing to push their sales forward at all.  

Beyond concerns about Thanksgiving dinners cut off at 2 p.m. and extended family members staying home to wait for the sales, many customers are opposing the shift out of sympathy for the workers who have no choice but to miss part of the holiday. Apparently, sympathy for Occupy Wall Street's grievances and distrust of major corporations has made consumers more sensitive than ever to big chains' “bah, humbug” approach to the holidays for their workers.

So far it seems unlikely these protests will actually affect store openings, but some are trying anyway. One Target employee has even started an online petition trying to get the chain to open at 5 a.m. Friday.  

The recent labor victory in Ohio would seem to indicate a shift in public opinion toward greater concern for workers' rights. Major retailers might want to be careful that their more cynical attempts to increase profits don’t alienate their customers. 

(See also: Nordstrom Waits Alone for the Holidays and  Will These 5 Retail Holiday Shopping Trends Save Retail Investors From a Blue Christmas?)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.