November 23, 2013

A day to break bread – and then, the bank

Pass the turkey – and the credit card.

Pass the turkey – and the credit card.

This Thanksgiving, penny-pinching pilgrims can get an even earlier start on Christmas shopping – 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. Thursday at a few stores. Others are rolling out deals throughout the afternoon and evening.

Towne East Square and Towne West Square will be open at 8 p.m. on Turkey Day. That’s about the time many people head to bed after eating second helpings of sleep-inducing turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy.

Shoppers have been getting a jump start on Black Friday the past few years. Start times are creeping earlier and earlier.

“Everybody wanted to be the first to open on Thanksgiving,” said Cindy Claycomb, interim dean of the Barton School of Business and marketing professor at Wichita State University. “Now, it’s almost like you have to be open on Thanksgiving. To keep up with Walmart, they have to do it.”

Not all consumers are happy about the trend.

Thanksgiving, said Haysville resident Shirley Greene, is a day to give thanks, “not a day to go out and grub grub grub.”

Greene said she will shop on Black Friday but not on Thursday.

“Those who are shopping on Thanksgiving Day need to realize that they are causing others to have to work on that day,” she said. “Shopping is not critical on a holiday.”

Greene works at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store at Towne West Square and will have to start helping customers at 6 a.m. Friday.

“It will be crazy all day,” she said, “but at least our company realizes the importance of Thanksgiving.”

Although some people have bashed retailers on social media for opening on Thanksgiving, Claycomb said that a lot of people seem to enjoy shopping after their family meal.

“What I’ve seen over the last couple of years is that they do get crowds to come out,” she said. “I don’t think it alienates them. The people who don’t want to come, they just don’t come.”

Patsy Terrell , a social media manager and writer in Hutchinson, had this to say on Facebook recently: “People seem a tiny bit confused. No one is going to force you to shop on Thanksgiving. If you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving, don’t shop on Thanksgiving. No one will pry your credit card out of your wallet against your will.”

Kari Karsky, manager of the Target store at NewMarket Square, said opening earlier gives stores a competitive edge.

She said managers talked to employees about whether they wanted to work on Thanksgiving when the store opens at 8 p.m.

“A lot of them just want to work because of the excitement,” she said. “The team just wants to be part of that.”

Employees receive extra pay for working on Thanksgiving, she said. About 100, or roughly half, of her employees plan to work Turkey Day, she said.

Smaller stores

Claycomb said she didn’t think smaller, locally owned stores would see as much benefit from opening on Thanksgiving “because the big stores run those super big sales. Being open on Friday, that’s something different. They’ll get the walk-through traffic.”

Linda Webb, owner of Personally Yours, a shop at NewMarket Square, said Friday she wasn’t yet sure if she’d be open Thanksgiving.

“If we do open, it’ll just be me and my husband so our employees can be with family,” she said.

Webb said she would feel uncomfortable asking staff to work Thanksgiving because “I just think it’s time for people to be with family. I do understand people like to do something that day and shop.”

Dale Weir of Wichita won’t be one of those people.

She doesn’t plan to shop Thanksgiving or Friday.

Instead, she looks for deals throughout the year and usually has her holiday shopping done by Thanksgiving.

Weir said people have “364 other days from one Christmas to another. We need to fight to keep Thanksgiving a holiday and not let all these other things interfere with it.”

Cathy Stevenson of Derby said she and her sister have enjoyed Black Friday shopping for 25 years.

“It has always been a female version of a hunting trip,” she said in comments to The Eagle. “We got to know people in line with us and everyone was happy and shared the excitement.”

But she and her sister have avoided Thanksgiving Day shopping because “we find that people are much more cranky at night, especially after the stress of being with family all day.”

Holiday vs. shopping day

Terrell thinks there’s room for the holiday and shopping. She will scope out the sales to see if there are any good deals on things she needs.

“I will be cooking dinner and we’ll eat in the afternoon, and sometime during the day I will see what’s in the sales. If there’s something I want, I’ll buy it. I’m not going to give up having dinner with people I love in order to shop, just as I wouldn’t go camp out at Best Buy days in advance and miss Thanksgiving,” she said in a message to The Eagle.

Black Friday is not a big Christmas shopping day for her, she said.

“I generally go out for one or two things, but there are some stores I will avoid because it’s just not worth the hassle of the crowds. I’d rather pay more than deal with it,” she said. “I’m never shopping for the ‘hot’ items like televisions and gaming products. Last year I bought a computer monitor. There were three in the store, and a friend and I bought two of them. The third was still there the next day. It was a great deal – more than half off – but just not a typical thing people are looking for.”

She and a friend went out Thanksgiving last year to a store that was open “just to see what it was like,” she said. “It was a madhouse. People were lined up at every door waiting to get in. Neither of us was after something specific. We were more tourists.”

Karsky, the manager at Target, said her store will have doorbuster specials. She thinks being open on Thanksgiving gives consumers a choice.

“I think it’s really nice for our guests because they can have their holiday experience with their family and then go shopping with them instead of going to bed early and setting their alarms for Friday,” Karksy said.

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