Thanksgiving falls late this year, which means the official start of the holiday shopping season, “Black Friday,” is running late as well. This puts added pressure on retail stores, most of which are losing six or more shopping days this season. That is why several stores, including Wal-Mart and Toys R Us, have announced that they are opening their doors as early as 5p.m. on Thanksgiving. Kmart, in an astonishing attempt to attract shoppers, will start its sales at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning and will not close until 11 p.m. on Black Friday, 41 hours later. In most cases, families won’t have served their pumpkin pie by the time the shopping madness ensues! Normally, “Black Friday” kicks off the holiday shopping season, but this year desperate stores are getting a head start and therefore transferring this privilege over to Thanksgiving Day, making Black Friday seem almost like an afterthought.
Consumers have expressed their frustration at this recent trend. Many feel like American consumerism is taking over what used to be a cherished day of family and giving thanks. However, the real question is: “How many shoppers will actually decide to hit stores on Thanksgiving?” Several polls have attempted to answer this question, but the numbers are slightly misleading. One consumer poll, conducted on the behalf of International Council of Shopping Centers Inc. and Goldman Sachs, reported that 13% of U.S. consumers will shop on Thanksgiving Day. Another survey from Accenture reported this proportion of Americans is an expected 38%. This raises the question of which estimate is more accurate.
Well, in fact, the implication that more than one in three American consumers will leave their homes and families on Thanksgiving to go shopping is completely false. What the study doesn’t mention is that the consumers in question also include those who will participate in online shopping at some point on Thanksgiving. And these online shoppers, as you might expect, make up the majority. In the Accenture poll, only 28% of those who planned on shopping on Thanksgiving said they would be doing most of their shopping in physical stores.
So yes, there will most likely be some long lines at your local Wal-Mart or Kmart on Thanksgiving. However, I would not suggest that Thanksgiving is being taken over by the shopping craze that is Black Friday, at least not yet. Retail stores are doing everything in their power to kick off the shopping season as early as they can this year. But, in the end, we as consumers decide when it is time to spend quality time at the dinner table with family and when it is time to grab our credit cards and line up for the sales.
For more information on Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping trends, visit http://business.time.com/2013/11/21/the-big-lie-about-shopping-on-thanksgiving-and-black-friday/?iid=gs-main-mostpop2.