Thanksgiving Day shoppers get head start on Magnificent Mile

SHARE Thanksgiving Day shoppers get head start on Magnificent Mile

The Crawford family — Steve Crawford, with his wife, Tonia, and daughter Katie — were among the Thanksgiving Day shoppers who couldn’t wait for Black Friday. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Tonia Crawford had a slight bout of conscience while interacting with retail employees working on Thanksgiving as she shopped on the Magnificent Mile.

“You just feel kind of guilty when you’re going in to get a hot chocolate from Ghirardelli,” Crawford, 41, of Fort Wayne, Indiana, said after a visit to the chocolate retailer. “But I’m appreciative.”

Many of the shops along Michigan Avenue that were open for business on Thanksgiving Day were large clothing retailers, including Gap, Forever 21, Levi’s and Banana Republic. Macy’s chose unique hours: 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

“I would hate to make that call on whether to stay open on Thanksgiving,” said Crawford’s husband, Steve, an insurance salesman.

“I’d be all right if they were all closed. We’d find other things to do,” he said, noting that he once worked as a firefighter and knows what it’s like being away from loved ones on holidays.

Shoppers don’t have to wait for Black Friday. Lots of people were out on the Magnificent Mile on Thanksgiving Day. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

Shoppers don’t have to wait for Black Friday. Lots of people were out on the Magnificent Mile on Thanksgiving Day. | Mitch Dudek/Sun-Times

“All these stores should respect tradition and open on Black Friday,” said a man from Milwaukee, in town visiting relatives, who only gave his first name, Tom. “They’re all trying to one-up each other with their hours.”

North Bridge mall, which houses Nordstrom, was closed all day, as were the Apple Store and The Disney Store.

An employee of a large clothing retailer shared her thoughts while folding sweaters.

“It kind of sucks,” she said. “I’d rather be with my family. But I’m a seasonal employee, and they needed people to be here. At least I’m getting time and a half,” the worker, who asked not to be identified, said of her hourly wage.

Thanksgiving Day, rather than the day after, has become the start of the holiday shopping season in a shift that delights some and disgusts others.

Many of the nation’s mall operators and the big retailers that anchor them, such as J.C. Penney and Macy’s, are sticking with what they would like to see established as a new Thanksgiving tradition.

The competition to grab customers first is keen: Macy’s opened at 5 p.m. Thursday, an hour earlier than a year ago after seeing Penney’s open at 3 p.m. last year. Penney’s is sticking with that time.

Some stores think it’s not worth opening on Thanksgiving because the sales are spread out. Consumer electronics chain hhgregg Inc. and the Mall of America in Minnesota are closed on Thanksgiving after opening on the holiday in the past.

Many are offering the same deals in their brick-and-mortar stores as online, and they’re pushing them even earlier this year for online shoppers. Wal-Mart started its Thanksgiving sale online at 12:01 a.m. ET Thursday, three hours earlier than last year. It’s also increasing the number of products for online orders by 50 percent for the holiday kickoff compared to a year ago. J.C. Penney made its deals available on its website the day before Thanksgiving.

Target Corp. plans to offer its Cyber Monday deals in its stores as well for the first time, and is launching them on Sunday. It’s hoping to avoid the web snafus it saw a year ago, while also catering to shoppers who want to go back and forth from the stores to online.

Contributing: Associated Press

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