The Norman Transcript

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November 30, 2013

Americans get early shopping start

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Black Friday had been the official start of the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was originally named Black Friday because it was when retailers turned a profit, or moved out of the red and into the black. Retailers opened early and offered deep discounts.

But in the past few years, store chains have been opening on Thanksgiving.

This year, several welcomed shoppers for the first time on Thanksgiving night, while Gap Inc., which owns Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy, opened half its stores earlier on the holiday.

Wal-Mart stores, most of which stay open 24 hours, has for the past several years offered doorbusters that had been reserved for Black Friday. And Kmart planned to stay open 41 hours starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

That has led some to question how much further Black Friday will creep into Thanksgiving, which along with Christmas is one of only two days a year that most stores are closed.

“Black Friday is now Gray Friday,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, a retail consultancy.

The earlier openings have met with some resistance.

Workers’ rights groups and some shoppers had planned protests on Thanksgiving and Black Friday to decry the way some store employees were forced to miss holiday meals at home. But as of Thursday afternoon, there were no reports of widespread protests.

Judy Espey ducked out of a Thanksgiving family dinner to buy a 50-inch flat-screen TV at Wal-Mart near Clifton Park, N.Y., for $288. But “I don’t really dig the Thanksgiving night thing,” she confessed. “I feel bad for the workers.”

Vinnie Gopalakrishnan pledged not to hit the stores after seeing TV footage of people shopping on Thanksgiving. But he flip-flopped after his cousin told him about a deal on a big-screen TV.

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