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Darlene Wendels / The Collegian

Is Gray Thursday the new Black Friday? Holiday shopping season starting earlier than ever

Darlene Wendels / The Collegian

Darlene Wendels / The Collegian

Many businesses nationwide will open their doors for shoppers as early as Thanksgiving morning this year, stirring different opinions about whether the decision is appropriate.

Prominent stores in Fresno including Macy’s, Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart will be opening for Black Friday at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Yet other stores are opening even earlier, such as Kmart at 6 a.m., Big Lots at 7 a.m. and RadioShack at 8 a.m.

One such store opening early in Fresno is Sears, a decision store manager Rande Johnson said is important for the company.

On Thanksgiving Day alone, the store will make sales worth about the equivalent of two regular weekends, Johnson said. Black Friday, meanwhile, makes up to the equivalence of about four regular weekends’ worth of sales.

“Last year, we did Door Buster at 8 p.m. at night and again at 6 a.m.,” Johnson said. “This year, we’re going to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open until the following day because it’ll make it easier for everyone.”

While companies may benefit from Black Friday, concerns remain about shopping creeping into a traditional family holiday for some.

“Black Friday is a complicated issue for retailers, as they need to balance the competing needs of multiple stakeholders, including customers, shareholders and employees,” said Fresno State marketing professor Monique Bell. “Even more concerning for these groups is the idea of ‘Grey Thursday,’ with many stores planning to be open on Thanksgiving Day itself.

“On one hand, retailers need the sales generated by holiday purchases, particularly after multiple years of recession and lower-than-expected spending during recovery,” she said. “At the same time, many consumers, especially members of the Millennial generation, value family and fair treatment of employees more than they do getting more stuff.”

Consumers are choosing to use their dollars to support companies whose values are aligned with theirs, Bell said, so companies need to carefully consider the costs and rewards of creating a perception of putting profits before their employees and their families.

Jeremy Coane, a senior at Fresno State working for Toys ‘R’ Us, said working on last year’s Black Friday was stressful but a good opportunity to earn extra money working overtime.

“Toys ‘R’ Us actually opened for Black Friday on Thanksgiving evening,” he said. “Other than the fact that it was Thanksgiving, it went all right. They were really well-organized. They gave out tickets to people in line for the really popular items so that there wouldn’t be people fighting over them.”

Fresno State marketing professor Dr. William Rice said Black Friday also influences the future shopping of consumers.

“It’s a marketing ploy to get people thinking about where they can get a deal in hopes that imagery or remembrance will stick in their head when they start shopping later and nearer to Christmas Day,” he said.

Black Friday is also harmful because it lowers people’s price perception and expectations, which can affect people’s willingness to spend after the low-price days pass, Rice said.

Additionally, it also helps companies by giving them feedback on what are popular grabs this season, he said.