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Thursday, December 18, 2014         

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Thanksgiving openings send consumers flocking to stores

By Mae Anderson

Associated Press

POSTED:


NEW YORK » Not all Americans tucked into turkey with their families on Thanksgiving. Some were out shopping, hitting sales ahead of the crowds expected today.

After a year of cautious spending and worry over an uncertain economy and high unemployment, more stores extended hours this year into Thanksgiving Day, a day when stores are traditionally closed.

Many grumble about the relentless march of commercialism creeping into the holiday. But at least some shoppers took the bait.

While crowds appeared relatively light compared with the weekend ahead, the extended hours drew in overseas visitors, those who have to work today and some who couldn't resist a good deal.

Sears, Kmart and some Sports Authority, Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores were among those open yesterday.

At an Old Navy in Lutherville, Md., Brenda Tarver, 65, a retired postal employee from Baltimore, was dragged out of the house by her daughters but was finding good deals on clothing.

"They've got good prices and a variety of items. A lot of things are 50 percent off," she said.

David Friedman, president of marketing for Sears Holdings Corp., said the decision to open 7 a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving stemmed from positive response to a similar "early Black Friday" sale in November, as well as success with Kmart, which Sears also owns and has been open on Thanksgiving for 19 years.

Workers will earn holiday pay and still be home in time for a Thanksgiving meal, Friedman said.

Toys R Us CEO Jerry Storch said the company decided to open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day because reaction was so positive to the stores' midnight opening last year. Before that, stores opened at 5 a.m. on Friday.

"Customers lined up at 8 p.m. on last year. They wanted us to open earlier," he said.

A similar promotional blitz greeted online shoppers yesterday, though the holiday isn't a bonanza there, either.

Last year, consumers spent about $300 million online on Thanksgiving, compared with $887 million on Cyber Monday, according to comScore.

Early data from Coremetrics, an IBM company, from early afternoon showed that online Thanksgiving Day sales were up about 0 percent over Thanksgiving a year ago. The average order size was down 18 percent from a year ago to $130.50, but that figures was getting bigger as the day went on.

John Thompson, senior vice president and general manager of Best Buy Inc.'s website, said this year the company reached out to its frequent online shoppers and gave them early access to deals. "Thanksgiving Day is a day when we are seeing more and more consumers choose online as a place to begin their research and actually transact."






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