Tampa, Florida - Thanksgiving is no longer a family day to just eat and give thanks. Now it's a shopping day too. Stores are opening up even earlier this year and staying open throughout Black Friday.
Some retailers reason if they extend the holiday shopping hours, more customers will show up and stores make more money. But retailers say opening up earlier on Thanksgiving Day isn't their idea... it's what customers want.
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Walmart officials expect booming business this weekend. Stores have several trailers filled with extra merchandise on hand ready to restock shelves. Last year stores opened at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Walmart spokesperson Bill Wertz says, "It was the busiest hour of the whole weekend."
Due to customer demand, Wertz says stores are opening two hours earlier at 8 p.m. "Shoppers gave us the feedback they would like to start earlier, like to shop, go home, go to bed."
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Some Walmart employees are fighting back planning a strike on Black Friday for having to work even earlier on the holiday. They've formed a website called Making a Change at Walmart.
"I think they should be given the option to work or not," says Lori Lamont from Tampa.
Terry Fluke, also a Tampa resident, says, "If it's the new norm, they'll have to adjust."
Some shoppers understand when you work in retail, expect to be on the clock during the holidays.
"Some of us have to work on the holiday. Pick and choose your career, I guess," says Fluke.
Wertz adds, "We can't tell customers we will be there at our convenience. We need to be there at their convenience. Our associates understand Black Friday and the holidays are the most important part of the year in the retail business."
USF Marketing Professor Dip Biswas says opening Thanksgiving is becoming an acceptable practice.
"If it's a crowd mentality, all retailers doing it than you don't stand out," says Biswas. He adds, "My guess is in a few years from now, there won't be the term Black Friday. It'll be Black Thursday."
Holiday store hours vary enough to fit customer's needs, but some prefer tradition.
Fluke says, "I think a holiday should remain a holiday places should remain closed."
Lamont says, "I'd go out on Thanksgiving and shop once in a while, I do. But my big day is Friday morning. That's part of the fun going with my mom or family."
This time of year retailers make 40% of their yearly sales and some bring in half of that just during the Thanksgiving weekend. Opening up earlier doesn't mean you have to wait until Black Friday to cash in on deals. Stores are offering deals on Thanksgiving. Walmart will have specials a 8 p.m. then 10 p.m. and again at 5 a.m.