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I’m dreaming of a ... gray Thursday?

November 19, 2012 - Rob Weaver
Forget the forecast, which now calls for clear skies Thanksgiving day. This Thursday is starting to look a bit gray.

That’s because Black Friday has begun to creep into the preceding holiday. The Friday after Thanksgiving traditionally has been the kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. It came to be known as Black Friday because of the urban myth that it’s the day retailers begin to show a profit, or operate in the black.

Actually, the term originated decades ago in Philadelphia, when a curmudgeonly type used it as an apt description for the hordes of holiday shoppers who converge on retail stores. Over the years, stores opened at ever-earlier hours, more recently opening well before dawn the day after Thanksgiving -- 6 a.m. openings yielded to 5 a.m., then 4 a.m.

Now, the openings have extended into the holiday itself, with Walmart and Sears stores among those planning to open at 8 p.m. Thursday.

There is a logic to the ever-earlier start. Black Friday originally occurred because of the number of people who were off work the day after the holiday. Considering most Thanksgiving meals likely will be over by 8 p.m. (ignoring grazing of leftovers, which never really ceases), those who aren’t sports fans may be willing to engage in recreational shopping with friends and family that evening.

But (and this is a bit hypocritical, because some A-T staffers will work Thursday on the Friday edition) as more retailers open Thanksgiving day, more retail employees will be pulled away from family gatherings to go to work.

If the early opening is profitable, some retailers might opt to unlock their doors even earlier next Thanksgiving. Whether the shopping season continues intruding into the holiday, then, really is up to the shoppers.


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