We’re less than two weeks away from the biggest day of the year for retailers: Black Friday. But while Black Friday shopping is no doubt a huge deal, perhaps an even bigger deal is now the fact that many big brands are beginning Black Friday on … well … Thursday.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) is a prime example; the do-it-all retailer has shrugged off the significance of one-day Black Friday shopping. Instead, WMT (already open 24 hours in many locations) will be offering deals over a five-day period beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day — right between that last plate of turkey and that first slice of pie.
But Walmart makes a good point in the argument over when Black Friday shopping should begin. As Deisha Barnett, a Walmart spokeswoman, told The New York Times:
“We’re in the service industry, and we’re just like airports and grocery stores and gas stations that are open on Thanksgiving so they can provide what customers need. We’ve been open on Thanksgiving for 20-something years.”
Still, the fact that Walmart and other retailers are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day and moving Black Friday shopping up continues to stir up controversy. Target Corporation (TGT) will also open on Thanksgiving Day, in addition to giving shoppers early access to deals this week and offering free shipping the whole shopping season. Kmart Corporation and Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) will also open their doors on Turkey Day, in addition to Macy’s Inc. (M), Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY), RadioShack Corporation (RSH) and others.
But for the controversial cherry on top, Walmart also has to beware of Black Friday protests — something you could almost call an annual Thanksgiving tradition for the retailer. This year, Walmart employees are planning protests at a whopping 1,600 locations nationwide in a fight against low wages. Then again, protests are a pretty regular occurrence for the controversial bargain store; protests erupted at a Los Angeles location just last week.
Zooming back in on Black Friday shopping, we can’t overlook the fact that plenty of retailers are taking the opposite stance of Walmart. Costco Wholesale Corporation (COST), TJX Companies Inc. (TJX), Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS), Bed, Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY), Nordstrom Inc (JWN) and many others are staying closed Thanksgiving Day in an effort to honor the holiday.
Then there’s tech darling Apple Inc (AAPL). The company recently announced it will open its doors at 8 a.m. on Friday for Black Friday shopping — even foregoing opening at the crack of dawn like most retailers. Their reasoning? The sales data doesn’t support an earlier opening decision.
Meanwhile, New England shoppers in some states are required to wait until Friday. Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island have so-called “blue laws” that actually ban retailers from opening their doors on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
The bottom line? Black Friday shopping has just about always resulted in fights of some sort — but as of lately, they have become moral in nature.
Do you think retailers like Walmart, Target and others should save Black Friday shopping for Friday? Weigh in below in the comments section.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.