Are Thanksgiving Day sales here to stay?

Millennials say yes, even though many move to boycott participating brands.

It’s almost time to sit down with family and friends, enjoy turkey and dressing, and then take part in our nation’s beloved tradition of consumerism: Black Friday.

For many, that tradition will actually start on Thanksgiving Day, but is that actually what consumers want?

For many, the answer is no. According to a recent LoyaltyOne research study, half of Americans say having all-day shopping hours on Thanksgiving Day detracts from the celebration and time with family.

In an effort to support employee relations as well as traditionalist consumers, several stores—including Costco, REI, and American Girl— have vowed to remain closed on the holiday. Other retailers such as Nordstrom, Petco, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, TJ Maxx, and Lowe’s are also not opening early for Black Friday shopping.

Traditionalists shouldn’t get excited yet, though. The rest of the findings don’t look promising when it comes to putting the kibosh on Thanksgiving Day shopping.

Though the LoyaltyOne study showed only 33 percent of Americans liked Thanksgiving Day store openings, the study also found half of respondents ages 18 to 24 and just under half (48 percent) of respondents ages 25 to 34 think Thanksgiving shopping is a great idea.

An Accenture study pointed out consumers’ Black Friday shopping enthusiasm is the highest it’s been in eight years. The study also reported 55 percent of respondents plan to shop on Black Friday, and 45 percent plan to hit the stores on Thanksgiving Day.

Many retail chains have not only decided to release Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving, but have also announced they will open a few hours earlier than last year.

Best Buy, JC Penney, and Toys R Us stores will open Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. local time; Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears, Target, and Walmart will open their doors at 6 p.m.

For retailers extending these sales to their websites, the payout may be even higher.

Thanksgiving Day online sales will outnumber Cyber Monday sales, according to Adobe’s 2014 Digital Index Online Shopping Forecast. Last year’s sales on the holiday brought in more than $1 billion, but this year the company predicts consumers will spend more than $1.35 billion online after gorging on turkey and side dishes.

What does all this excitement over cheap electronics and toys mean for brand managers? LoyaltyOne retail practice leader Fred Thompson said pros should put the customer at the center of the decision.

“Although opening on Thanksgiving Day may lead to incremental sales that day, retailers could risk upsetting their most loyal customers who routinely shop their stores year-round,” Thompson said. “Retailers should identify who their best customers are and respond with Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales accordingly.”

So we might, in the near future, eat our turkey as we shop.

Beki Winchel is co-editor of PR Daily.

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Topics: PR

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