There was an outcry last year when some retailers opened at midnight on Thanksgiving, with workers and shoppers saying the holiday should be reserved for family, not spent lining up for the start of the Christmas shopping season.
This year, retailers are responding to the criticism by opening even earlier on Thanksgiving evening — and a handful are even planning to be open all day.
The lesson of 2011 was clear: Earlier shopping hours were good for the top line. Retailers said their midnight openings drew a younger crowd who wanted to party — and shop — late rather than get up early. At Macy’s Herald Square store in Manhattan, for instance, about 9,000 people were in line as it opened, compared with 7,000 for an early Friday opening the previous year.
“We got customer feedback that says, ‘I like to shop earlier so I can go to bed earlier,’ as we looked at the balance of being competitive in the marketplace and being customer-centric," said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Wal-Mart, which will put its first doorbuster items on sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.