Walmart, Sears to Open Stores on Thanksgiving


The next thing you know all retailers will be open on Christmas day to squeeze the last dime out of holiday shoppers. It's hard to blame them. The 2008 and 2009 holiday sales period were bruising for most stores and chains. This year may be better, but only slightly so. A number of public companies in the sector have been forced to cut staff and have shown losses since the recession began. Some, like Circuit City, didn't make it through the recession gauntlet at all.

Walmart (WMT) will try to pick up its holiday sales by remaining opened on Thanksgiving. Sears (SHLD) will match that. The sanctity of Thanksgiving may be violated, but Walwart and Sears will have a head start on their rivals.

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Reuters reports that Sears will be open Thanksgiving from 7 a.m. until noon except in areas where laws don't allow it. Walmarts will be open most of the day. Many other retailers will open early on Black Friday, some of them well before dawn.

If the moves smacks of desperation, that's because it is. Same-store sales have fallen at most chains since the recession began. Some of that ground has been reclaimed this year, but not nearly enough to get back to 2007 levels. Industry groups expect sales to rise between 2% and 3% for the 2010 holiday season, but it won't take much in the way of recession fears and continued unemployment to chip away at the number.

Retailers are apparently will to do anything to avoid getting a lump of coal in their stockings again this year.