Go to Macy's or Eat Pumpkin Pie? Stores to Open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving

Macy's Plans to Open on Thanksgiving For Early Black Friday Sales
"Miracle on 34th Street" has crossed the intersection of Reality Boulevard and Main Street.

There was further confirmation Monday of a story we first reported back on Oct. 2: Macy's (M) -- the iconic department store chain profiled in the Christmas classic -- will be joining many of its peers kicking off their in-store Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving evening.

The news hasn't been made official. Macy's Black Friday page remains unchanged from last year, when the retailer offered online shopping of its Black Friday sale on Thursday, but waited until midnight to open its brick-and-mortar stores. However, reports that were officially unearthed by Consumerist earlier this month are now being confirmed by several employees who have been asked about their availability to work on Thursday.

That means at some houses, Thanksgiving turkey will be served a bit earlier in the day so mom and dad can duck out early to either go shopping or to work the register. Save them a slice of pumpkin pie.

Gray Thursday

It's hard to blame Macy's: It's certainly not breaking new ground here. The same Black Friday doorbuster bargains that used to await shoppers at dawn on Friday have pushed up against midnight openings in recent years. Now those sales are bleeding into Thursday.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Walmart (WMT) received plenty of negative public attention last year when it opened at 8 p.m. Thursday, as Macy's will do this year. Walmart had opened at 10 p.m. the year before that -- and the world's largest retailer probably felt that it didn't have much of a choice about moving the opening up, considering that Sears (SHLD) and Toys R Us were unlocking their doors last Thanksgiving at 8 p.m. Target (TGT) held out until 9 p.m.

Macy's stuck with a midnight opening last year, keeping company with Kohl's (KSS) and The Sports Authority, but now it has decided to compete with the discounters.

The fear here is that shoppers will be all tired out from chasing deals come midnight on Friday. If a retailer wants to make a splash this holiday season, it'll need to join the early birds.

Blue Christmas

It's not just the sales that are bumping up earlier in the calendar. Several retailers have been promoting their holiday offerings as early as this summer.

Walmart and Sears-owned Kmart began offering their layaway holiday plans earlier this year, hoping that patrons would start checking people off their Nice lists sooner than ever.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%Reactions will be mixed among Macy's target customers. There are probably more than a few shoppers that will welcome going to sleep earlier on a full Thanksgiving-stuffed stomach than having to wait until midnight to hit up the local mall anchor. Others will naturally object to feeling like they are being pressured to duck out between spoonfuls of cranberry sauce and before the last of the NFL games are over.

Some employees will welcome the opportunity to earn a little extra dough with the longer hours, though many won't be happy about cutting holiday short. And it will be significantly harder on the employees: The stores may open at 8 p.m., but workers will have to come in hours earlier to start setting up.

And in the end, will any of it make a difference to Macy's bottom line? History hasn't exactly been kind to retailers on that front.

Despite opening up two hours earlier in 2012, Walmart's comparable store sales for last year's holiday quarter were up a mere 1 percent -- a bump that didn't even keep up with inflation. Comparable sales at domestic Sears stores rose a similarly ho-hum 0.8 percent. Nor did it look as though Macy's suffered by opening a few hours later: It posted its largest-volume Thanksgiving weekend ever.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
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