Retailers Turning Black Friday Into Black Thursday in 2012 (WMT, TGT, M, KSS, BBY, SHLD, GPS)

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If you have ever heard of retailers getting more and more desperate to capture your Christmas and holiday spending dollars, 2012 is going to take the cake. Two holidays have generally been considered to be sacred for American workers: Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. If you look at how many retailers are opening earlier and earlier, the retail management is putting itself into a death spiral in the quest to capture every last dollar spent for the holiday gift giving season.

Recent research from the National Retail Federation projects a conservative holiday spending budget but put the total budget at $749.51 per shopper for 2012. That would be a gain of 4.1%, for a total of $586.1 billion. The list of retailers opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday is through the roof.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is now being joined by Toys R Us for an early 8:00 PM open on Thanksgiving night. Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) is opening its doors at 9:00 PM on Thanksgiving night.

Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) and Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS) are going for midnight openings. Best Buy Co. (NYSE: BBY) will also open at midnight for Black Friday.

Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD) is also getting way deep in the game for its Kmart unit. It said, “Sears stores will open at 8 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving Day and stay open overnight until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. Kmart stores will be open from 6 a.m. local time until 4 p.m. and from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and reopen from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.”

Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) said that it will “continue its tradition of giving shoppers a jumpstart on holiday shopping by opening more than 1,100 stores across the country on Thanksgiving Day, including nearly 800 Old Navy stores, more than 200 combined Gap and Gap Outlet stores, and more than 100 total Banana Republic and Banana Republic Factory stores… Additionally, almost 1,500 stores across Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store divisions will open at midnight on Black Friday, November 23.”

These are just the major store openings. It is true that earlier shopping hours generates more sales over the Black Friday period after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, that does not automatically translate to higher sales for all of the holiday season. This is also a trend which gives the major stores with thousands and thousands of employees even that much more of an advantage over smaller retailers.

The chase for the last dollar never ends. 24/7 Wall St. would like to ask one question of fairness: “Will executives and board members be working during the same extended hours?”

JON C. OGG

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