Though some shoppers — and retail workers — have grumbled about the event's creep into Thanksgiving, many embrace the change. An estimated 41 million U.S. shoppers were expected to shop on Thanksgiving this year, or 17 percent of all consumers, and 80.5 million on Black Friday, a third of consumers, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Over half of all consumers say they will shop at some point during the Thanksgiving weekend.
One-third of those consumers say they are planning to shop on Thanksgiving Day because it's an earlier opportunity to find bargains, said Michael Niemira, vice president of research and chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers. Other reasons include — “it is something to do,” it is an easier time of day to shop, and they expect crowds will be smaller than on Black Friday.
Consumers, it seems, have accepted sales beginning on Thanksgiving. Last year, nearly a quarter of shoppers were at a store by midnight. In 2010, fewer than 10 percent were and in 2008, just over 2 percent were.
Cindee Riley, of Tuttle, was one of the first shoppers in the door at the Norman Toys R Us store. She had dinner with her family at 11 a.m. and was in line by 4 p.m. with her daughter, Summer Everett, wearing matching shirts that read “If you get trampled, I'll quickly reach over you for the TV.” The early 8 p.m. opening gave them a jump on the night's agenda, which included at least five stores.
“It's a lot better. This way, we can hit more stores,” Riley said.
Contributing: Staff Writer Andrew Knittle.