CAPITAL REGION Ryan Maloney has never had Black Friday fever. He has never woken up early, waited in long lines and rushed to a big-box store for deals in the early morning hours after Thanksgiving Day. In fact, he considers himself a “last-minute shopper.”
And yet somehow, he finds himself among the cohort of Americans this year who plan to start their Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving night. A select few big-box stores like Target, Walmart and Sears decided to move up their Black Friday sales from, well, Friday, to Thanksgiving evening.
“I normally hate Black Friday. So once I found out that they were doing this, I thought, ‘I really hope it’s not that popular,’ ” said Maloney, 29, of Schenectady. “I’m hoping more people are still actually doing their shopping on Friday.”
If you go
Here are a sample of Black Friday opening times for stores and local malls:
• Walmart: 8 p.m. Thursday
• Toys R Us: 8 p.m. Thursday
• Kmart: 8 p.m. Thursday
• Sears: 8 p.m. Thursday
• Target: 9 p.m. Thursday
• Wilton Mall: midnight Friday
• Rotterdam Square: midnight Friday
• Colonie Center: midnight Friday
• Crossgates Mall: midnight Friday
• Macy’s: midnight Friday
• Best Buy: midnight Friday
• Kohl’s: midnight Friday
• Lowe’s: 5 a.m. Friday
• Old Navy: midnight Friday
• Staples: 5 a.m. Friday
• Radio Shack: 6 a.m. Friday
• J.C. Penney: 6 a.m. Friday
But Maloney won’t be able to travel to his family’s Thankgiving dinner this year, so he’s decided Thursday night would be an ideal time to shop.
After some of the nation’s largest retailers announced they would begin their Black Friday sales on Thursday, they were met with a surprising amount of resistance from people who live in a nation known for trampling people to get the best holiday deals. Meanwhile, other stores large and small are also moving their Black Friday sales up in a move they call a response to consumer requests.
Many employees who have to work after their Thanksgiving meal with family decried the move, and average shoppers resisted the move in solidarity as well. Several petitions protesting the “Thanksgiving creep” popped up on Change.org, garnering hundreds of thousands of signatures.
A petition titled “Target: Take the highroad and save Thanksgiving” — created by a six-year Target employee in California who asked people to join her in giving Thanksgiving back to families — garnered more than 360,000 signatures as of Sunday afternoon.
Alan Bristol, of Troy, signed the petition and argued in the comments section that as a retail worker who has typically worked Black Friday, he just as easily could have been told to work right after Thanksgiving dinner.
“Thanksgiving is about as American a holiday as it gets,” he wrote. “It’s a holiday. Emphasis should be placed on ‘day.’ A day is 24 hours. … People will buy the same amount of useless crap when 8 a.m. on Black Friday rolls around. I feel it is un-American for retail stores to be open that day.”
Despite the apparent rush to begin the holiday shopping season as soon as possible, the National Retail Federation is expecting consumers to take a conservative approach to their holiday budgets, with this year’s holiday sales forecast to rise 4.1 percent to $586.1 billion.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a news release that the retail organization has seen cautious optimism all year long, but people are also eager to celebrate the holiday season.
“As the most promotional time of the year, retailers will continue to look for ways to stand out, specifically with attractive deals on toys, electronics and apparel, even well before the ‘official’ start of the holiday shopping season — Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” he said.
In the Capital Region, shopping malls and chain stores have also announced moved-up Black Friday sales. However, they still begin on Friday. At the same time, local chambers, boutiques and mom-and-pop stores are encouraging residents to do their holiday shopping at local stores and give back to their communities.
Peter Bardunias, president and CEO of the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County, said that while the Clifton Park Center will open earlier than usual Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m., several family-owned stores in the center will do their own promotions based on customer needs.
“Retailers do choose this time of year to get especially creative,” he said. “One of the big advantages of a small business is their community relationships. Therefore, you’ll see many small business owners participate in holiday parades and other public events, which are kicking off the season.”
He agreed with the NRF’s experience so far this year that cautious optimism seems to be the prevailing mindset among local business owners.
Todd Shimkus calls this mindset reasonable or modest optimism. The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce president notes that Saratoga County has all of the economic trends that forecast a robust holiday season — a growing population, shrinking unemployment rate and increasing average income.
“There’s a hope that those positive economic numbers translate to increased sales,” he said.
Mark Eagan, president and CEO at the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce, also said that local retailers are expecting this holiday season to be stronger than ever.