Target Stores Join Retailers Opening Earlier on Thanksgiving

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Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT) said Monday morning that it plans to open its stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, an hour earlier than it has opened in the past. The company said it is making the change in response to competitive pressure and demand from shoppers.

A number of retailers, including J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP), Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) and Kohl’s Corp. (NYSE: KSS), plan to open on Thanksgiving Day this year for the first time ever. Penney’s, Macy’s and Kohl’s will also open at 8 p.m.

Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) announced last week that it would open its stores at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, several hours earlier than its previous midnight opening. Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) plans to open its Sears stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, but the company’s Kmart stores are opening at 6 a.m. and running a 41-hour promotion through Black Friday at 11 p.m.

The Thanksgiving Day opening hours do not get a lot of favorable press, but shoppers apparently like having something to do on Thanksgiving evening besides watching more football games. In its announcement of the earlier opening hour, Best Buy said that “millions of people made it clear that they wanted to shop on Thanksgiving evening.”

The holiday shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is six days shorter this year, and retailers need to do all they can to boost sales in the days that are available. Many have already begun running holiday promotions, and adding a few more hours on Thanksgiving Day is just another way to make up for the shorter shopping season.

Bricks-and-mortar stores also have to compete against online sales from the likes of Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), which has just announced that it will make Sunday delivery of packages free to its Amazon Prime customers in Los Angeles and New York. Amazon keeps pushing the envelope and forcing traditional retailers to scramble to catch up.