Is nothing sacred anymore? Earlier today Walmart announced it will be opening at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to offer its Black Friday deals. That’s two hours earlier than last year!
The company is clearly caving to pressure from other companies that are all looking to be the biggest hit on Black Friday. In recent years many other stores have decided to open up on Thanksgiving evening, but Walmart has reached a new level.
The executive vice president and chief merchandising and marketing officer said, “Everyone’s moved up this year so it will be a new dynamic.” Although Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and can account for up to 40% of a store’s annual revenue, it seems to now be encroaching on the holiday and family time.
While one can understand the business angle of this decision, it is hard to see the cultural affect. The stores will need to be staffed by employees who will now be having their holidays cut short. Additionally, with so many families still suffering from the economic downturn, there will be a lot of people depending on these sales in order to afford a Christmas they want.
The question that still seems to resound is: when does Black Friday become Black Thursday and Friday? How far will this go and when will the American people begin to realize some days are meant for family?
Wal-Mart Steps Up Competition for Holiday Shopping
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said Tuesday that it will start offering its holiday deals at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving at its stores — two hours earlier than last year.
The world’s largest retailer will stagger holiday deals throughout the night and into “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving that’s traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.
The company also said that it will increase its stock of TVs by 65 percent and double the number of tablet computers for sale that weekend. It’s also bulking up the list of guaranteed popular items that it will sell in designated sections of its store to 21, from three last year.
Wal-Mart is responding to what’s expected to be a fiercely competitive holiday shopping season. Black Friday has traditionally been the official kickoff to the period, but in the last few years, that start has crept into Thanksgiving. This year, stores including Macy’s Inc., J.C. Penney Co. and Kohl’s Corp. are opening for the first time on Thanksgiving evening. And other stores, including Best Buy Co., announced earlier on Thanksgiving.
Most of Wal-Mart’s 4,000 U.S. namesake stores are already open 24 hours year-round. But the company is concentrating on offering holiday deals on Thanksgiving.
During a media call Monday, Duncan McNaughton, executive vice president and chief merchandising and marketing officer at Wal-Mart’s U.S. namesake division, said the discounter carefully studied the competitive landscape when it decided to start the deals earlier at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving.
“Everyone’s moved up this year so it will be a new dynamic,” McNaughton said.
For online shoppers, Wal-Mart will be offering special deals starting Thanksgiving morning, some of which will be the same as those offered at the sales events at the stores later in the evening.
The stakes are high for retailers since the holiday season accounts for up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects an increase of 3.9 percent to $602.1 billion in holiday sales.
There’s also more pressure on retailers this year because the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter than in 2012.