The madness of the holiday shopping season is fast descending upon us. And according to a survey from the National Retail Federation, it’s starting in full force on Thanksgiving this year.
Of the roughly 140 million people who plan to shop on Thanksgiving weekend, about 24%, or 33 million people, intend to go on Turkey Day, according to a survey from the industry trade group.
Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and J.C. Penney are among retailers opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, which is a new trend. Retailers are concerned about the all-important holiday shopping period in a sluggish economy, especially with six fewer days than last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, said it’s opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
J.C. Penney’s CEO said at a conference last month that employees were “excited” to drum up sales on Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart Executive Vice President Mac Naughton echoed that sentiment, telling ABC News this week that its associates are also “really excited to work that day.”
Despite those comments, opening stores on Thanksgiving is still controversial, since it cuts into the holiday for employees. Wal-Mart said it’s serving a turkey dinner to the estimated 1 million employees that will be working that day.
But because Thanksgiving is a “traditional holiday, not religious, it makes it easier for retailers to fight,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group. “It’s American heritage, so it’s very easy for them to do.”