Webster, N.Y.— Every year, Black Friday seems to come earlier and earlier. Last year, most stores opened at midnight, but this Thanksgiving weekend, some of the country’s major national chains are choosing to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
“It’s getting bad,” says Jim Hoffman, the owner of Netzman’s Appliances in Webster. “It’s getting worse. I hate to see it happen. I really do.”
Stores like Walmart, Target, K-Mart and Toys “R” Us announced they would open on Thanksgiving day.
According to RIT marketing professor Dr. Joe Miller, companies are deciding to open early because they know shoppers will come.
“Retailers have a bunch of access to a bunch of information that we, ourselves, leave,” says Miller. “We’re telling our retailers that even though we have things we hold sacrosanct, it’s okay for a store to open very, very early after Thanksgiving. It’s not a big problem for a lot of people, so the retailers decided to move forward.”
Miller adds that our activity online is what’s giving retailers confidence to open early.
“What [the retailers] have found out is that after the turkey is eaten, people will go online and start thinking about the next big holiday and start shopping.”
However, when it comes smaller, locally-owned businesses, Miller says opening earlier may not necessarily be that profitable.
“When you have a family retailer, they don’t have the reach and the ability to get messages out like Walmart and Target do,” says Miller. “They don’t have ability to act as if they’re not a player in the community.”
Hoffman says his business will open on Black Friday and the thought to open earlier never crossed his mind.
“We’re going to do our business the way we’ve always done business,” Hoffman says. “The little bit that [the retailers opening early] do take out on our market really isn’t going to affect us that much.”
Erich Nitsch, the store manager at Rowe Photo in Webster, feels the same. The store plans on opening an hour earlier than last year— at 8 a.m. on Friday morning but never considered opening on Thanksgiving.
Rowe Photo sells T.V.s and cameras and those items are some of the hot ticket items many Black Friday shoppers are looking for. However, Nitsch says the people standing in lines on Black Friday are not necessarily the shoppers who come to his store.
“I think the chain retailers cater to a different market from what we have,” says Nitsch. “We have always prided ourselves on having a higher end product and being able to discuss the product more than other retailers can.”
Nitsch says he’s confident the store’s sales will be good this weekend despite not opening earlier than Friday.
“Past years we’ve always had a good crowd. We’ve been around for 115 years. I think there is a lot of things we can do that a lot of online and big box stores can’t do.”
According to the National Retail Federation, 147 million people plan to shop this Black Friday weekend. That’s a 3.3 percent decrease from the 152 million who planned to do so last year.