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article image'Gray Thursday' steals Black Friday's thunder

By Alyssa Sellors     Nov 30, 2013 in Business
If you plan on searching YouTube for viral videos of crazed shoppers toppling over one another to get into a store, you may be sightly disappointed this year.
With more stores opening on Thanksgiving for Black Friday deals, many shoppers are not feeling that adrenaline rush of a 4 AM store opening. While there has been some criticism over Thanksgiving openings, there are six fewer shopping days in the holiday season which may have prompted a few stores to get in on those few extra hours of shopping. But the devoted Black Friday shoppers did feel a little slighted by the early opening as many of the deals were gone even before Black Friday began. Stores like K-Mart went so far as to open on Thanksgiving morning, at 6 AM, with “triple door busters” through Friday morning. Stores are obviously competing with one another for our Christmas dollars but is there no limit to what they will do?
Barney Jopson of Financial Times calls this competition among retailers the “creep phenomena” where retailers are trying to outdo each other by any means necessary. But this competition is not so widely accepted among employees or labor organizations who complain that by opening this early, retailers are “ruining” the Thanksgiving holiday for their employees. Jopson also reminds us that only about 13 percent of shoppers actually go out before midnight on Thanksgiving, so is it really worth it? Not to many protestors who showed up to voice their discontent at super store Walmart. Nationwide protests were held against wages and conditions, which they argue are too low and forcing employees to rely on government assistance. This opens up a whole other issue but the demanding schedule of a holiday opening definitely did not help Walmart's image, and many blame Walmart for starting 'Gray Thursday' as they were the first retailers to initiate a Thanksgiving Day opening.
One benefit to early openings is fewer crowds in general. With more shoppers spaced out over a wider period of time, many retailers and shoppers have reported smaller crowds and less frenzy. The smaller crowds could also be a result of the increased convenience and efficiency of online stores. While some shoppers prefer the online advantage as a reason to avoid the Black Friday mayhem, some shoppers simply don't feel the need to bust through retail doors before the break of dawn because they know the deals will be continued into the weekend, and they are correct. According to USA Today, “well over 100 million people are expected to shop during the four-day holiday weekend,” with most of those shoppers visiting major retail chains like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target. While most of the door busters will expired around 1 pm on Friday, not all is lost if you did not make it out because Cyber Monday is just around the corner.
So, what's the outlook on the rest of the holiday season? The Chicago Tribune cited The National Retail Federation who predicted that holiday sales “will rise 3-9 percent this year” while other forecasts are less optimistic predicting this holiday season as the worst holiday sales since 2008.
More about Black friday, Gray Thursday, Shopping, Holiday shopping
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