As more and more stores are joining Black Thursday it seems that even more people are also starting to voice their opposition.
Target’s employees, customers and shareholders have joined a petition that already has over 200,000 signatures and many are protesting the fact that Target’s workers have to leave their families early on Thanksgiving Day to handle the crowds of shoppers that are likely to visit stores.
Target recently announced it was opening on Thanksgiving this year in addition to Black Friday.
Other retailers like Walmart and Toys "R" Us have also joined the Black Thursday trend, where doors open almost a day earlier than they normally would, and many believe stores are putting profit over people and forcing employees to cater to those customers who prefer not to wait until Black Friday to do their shopping.
Consumers don't seem wild about the idea. A sentiment analysis of nearly 9,000 social media postings over the last year finds consumers holding mostly extreme opinions, i.e., they either really like the idea or really hate it.
These wide fluctations may, of course, be due to the relatively small sample size.
More shopping days
Rojeh Avanesian, who is the Vice President of Marketing and Analytics at PriceGrabber--a company that deals with retail cost comparison--says Black Thursday is beneficial to those customers who are looking to maximize the number of days they are able to shop and take advantage of deals.
“Black Thursday gives shoppers an opportunity to take advantage of deep discounts for a longer period of time,” he said in a ConsumerAffairs interview.
“Some retailers are offering additional sales to promote the extended hours and really push to get consumers in the door during Thanksgiving weekend. Since shoppers were preoccupied with the election, consumers will hit Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend hard with holiday shopping.”
Avanesian also says the inclusion of Black Thursday should push holiday sales over the top this year compared to 2011.
“According to our survey, more than 60 percent of consumers are planning to spend about the same or slightly more money this holiday season than in 2011,” he explained. “Over half of the consumers we surveyed said that they plan to spend over $500 or more.”
A handful of recently released surveys show that a large number of people will avoid shopping on Black Thursday, which could indicate a widespread dislike for the controversial shopping day.
These survey results could also show that many consumers are in no rush to deal with the legions of people, the busy stores and the long lines. But experts say there are still some people who are solely focused on good deals, and if consumers believe there is a way to save a dollar or two-- they are willing to get up from the Thanksgiving table and head to a store that’s open for business.
According to a PriceGrabber survey, about nine percent of consumers plan to head to the stores on Black Thursday, which is a small number of people compared to those who still see Black Friday as the best day to shop and get deals.
“Consumers are largely focused on one major theme this holiday season—deals, deals, and more deals,” said Avanesian.
“Our survey results indicate that 71 percent of consumers believe the best deals can be found on Black Friday, and in order to capitalize on retailer incentives that day, 64 percent of shoppers are planning to take advantage of Black Friday extended store hours this year.”
Family shopping adventure
But some store executives are sticking to their point that Black Thursday was created with the customer’s shopping interests in mind. There was even a Target vice president that said Black Thursday was a way that households can participate in a family shopping outing after dinner is finished.
“We heard from our guests that they look forward to kicking off their holiday shopping with deal hunting on Thanksgiving night,” said Target’s Vice President Kathee Tesija in a statement. “Opening at 9 p.m. gives Target’s Black Friday guests a more convenient way to create an after dinner shopping event that the entire family can enjoy.”
However, many consumers would probably disagree with this logic, because anyone who believes that entire families are dying to leave the coziness of Thanksgiving dinner to pile into a car for late night shopping, has probably been in the retail business a little too long.
But some retailers are using exclusive deals to attract shoppers to leave their homes on Thanksgiving night and many believe this sales tactic just might work.
Walmart is offering an Emerson 32-inch television set for $148, an Apple iPad 2 for $399 and a Blu-ray player from LG for $38 for those consumers who are in the store between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Thanksgiving night.
It will be interesting to see if consumers take this type of bait and head to stores on Thanksgiving or if they’ll exercise a little patience and just visit retailers on the following Friday and over the Thanksgiving weekend.
Of course 2012 isn’t the year that Black Thursday was invented, as many retailers have opened their doors on Thanksgiving in the past, but Avanesian said that most consumers still see Black Friday as the official start of the holiday shopping season--and according to PriceGrabber’s research-- consumers will spend more this Black Friday than last year.
“We expect Black Friday sales to increase slightly this year compared to 2011,” he says. “We predict sales will fall in-line with the industry projections of an approximate 4 percent increase. “Black Friday sales are also a good indication for how the rest of the holiday season will shape up.”
“According to our survey, more than 60 percent of consumers are planning to spend about the same or slightly more money this holiday season than in 2011. Over half of the consumers were surveyed said that they plan to spend over $500 or more,” said Avanesian.