A few years ago, the typical response to the question “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” would have been something along the lines of “cooking with my family,” “stuffing my face with turkey,” or, in those rare moments of sincerity, “being grateful for all of the blessings in my life.” However, the heartwarming days of Charlie Brown and hand-drawn turkey fingers seem long gone as holiday shoppers will be setting up camp for Black Friday 2013—and now Black Thursday—throughout the week.

Toys R Us & Friends

The Black Thursday shenanigan began just two years ago, in 2011, when Toys ”R” Us broke the invisible Black Friday barrier by opening on Thanksgiving at 9pm. Before this, stores’ opening hours had steadily crept from 6 a.m. to 4 a.m. to midnight, under the principle that earlier hours would attract more customers. However, none had dared overstep the sacred boundary of the holidays until Toys “R” Us. Once competitors witnessed Toys “R” Us’s early-bird profits, retailers like Kmart, Sears, Wal-Mart, and Gap joined in on the Thanksgiving sales in 2012.

Macy’s Gives In

Just this month, Macy’s shocked shoppers and news outlets alike when they officially announced that their doors would open at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s decision to break its 155-year tradition by setting earlier opening hours starkly contradicts the traditional Thanksgiving values it once promoted. You don’t have to hard to find the irony in this situation. Just think of the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, of crowds standing together, children on shoulders, bundled up in scarves and sweaters and gloves – then imagine those same families having to skip on Thanksgiving dinner to go shopping.

Macy’s isn’t the only retailer to have caved into this tradition. JC Penney and Kohl’s will also open at 8pm on Thanksgiving night, and the Thanksgiving Day sales might not end there! Macy’s decision as a major American retailer is predicted to pressure hundreds of other competitors, large and small, to hop on the Black Thursday bandwagon in 2014.

Black Thursday Backlash

Target switched to Thursday back in 2012, and the company’s decision was met with much resistance from employees. Target workers famously petitioned the company stand strong and save Thanksgiving for its workers. Despite protests, Target defied tradition and opened at 9 p.m. on Thursday, to the glee of consumers and horror of holiday workers.

This defeat did not mark the end of protests against mid-Thanksgiving shopping sprees. Tweeters and Facebook groups continue to urge stores and shoppers to abandon Black Thursday and return to what they feel is a proper celebration of the holiday.

Resisting the Temptation

Retailers like Jo-Ann and Best Buy refuse to join the Black Thanksgiving bandwagon and continue to preserve their Black Friday hours. Jo-Anne will host its standard doorbuster sales at 6 a.m., while Best Buy will open its doors on Friday at midnight. Macy’s once made a similar pledge to preserve Thanksgiving, but failed to stand the pressure of consumer demand and dwindling profits. We can only wonder how things will look next holiday season for the retailers that are standing their ground.

Thanksgiving Schedules

Here are a list of store hours this Thanksgiving:


  • Sears – 8am
  • Macy’s – 8pm
  • JCPenney – 8pm
  • Kohl’s – 8pm
  • Kmart – 8pm
  • Walmart – 8pm
  • Target – 9pm
  • Toys R Us – 9pm


  • Best Buy – 12am
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods – 5 am
  • Jo Ann’s – 6am
  • Home Depot – 5am

Final Word

On the one hand, it’s easy to feel threatened by change. We may all begin to feel longing for the days when the purity of a family-centered Thanksgiving Day wasn’t soiled by consumerism. On the other hand, change is an inevitable part of living life. After all is said and done, we are the shoppers, so we can chose to embrace the change or challenge it. Will you buy into Black Thanksgiving?

Gift box image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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