Sorry, Everyone – The Best Black Friday Doorbusters Will Happen on Thanksgiving Day

Sorry, Everyone – The Best Black Friday Doorbusters Will Happen on Thanksgiving Day
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Malls may close, but the most popular stores aren't likely to give up their foothold on Thanksgiving's turf anytime soon.

Looking to history for guidance

Taking a look at what Black Friday hours the top players have kept over the last nine years, we can see the long, slow march into Thursday.

 

black-friday-store-hours-2007-2016-chart

This should surprise absolutely no one who's paid even the smallest bit of attention to Black Friday over the years, but the visual is striking in that it shows that Black Friday sales have been interfering with Thanksgiving dinner since 2013. That's when Walmart, Best Buy and Toys R Us all crossed over into hours traditionally reserved for Americans' evening meals.

It's telling that after three years of public backlash, with the exception of Staples, the merchants in our chart haven't pulled back at all. On the contrary, it seems as though they've settled in. GameStop, after three years of being closed on Thanksgiving, will now follow the pack and open their stores on that Thursday. The message is clear: Outrage takes a backseat to profitability.

Smaller stores will close in greater numbers.

Sure, the smaller stores you typically find inside malls are more likely to close, partly under pressure from so many malls across the country that have effectively made that decision for them in years past. For the vast majority of these stores, you can start shopping their Black Friday sales online at midnight on Thanksgiving morning, anyway, and save all of your crowd-fighting energy for bigger fish.

We'll see more mid-tier stores retreat to Black Friday.

And we may see more mid-tier defections, like Office Depot, which followed Staples' lead after watching them closely last year. Likewise, we expect to see more sporting goods stores closing after REI's wildly popular anti-Black Friday campaign.

As heartening as that seems to the anti-Black Thursday crowd, these stores never have been the kind of stores that anyone was really excited to camp out for or hit up at 2am after an exhausting run through Walmart's Black Friday gauntlet. Light foot traffic in the wee hours ultimately doesn't justify the cost of keeping the lights on overnight.

The big boxes and major department stores will stick to Thanksgiving open times.

Macy's has made it clear that the Thanksgiving status quo isn't going anywhere when they announced plans to open at 5pm last Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than the previous year. We predict that Macy's will not be retreating this year either, besides a slight difference in possibly opening their doors at 6pm, their original Thursday opening time. Macy's feels no pressure from the malls since their stores are typically anchors with their own entrances. It doesn't matter if shoppers are angry, just so long as they show up with cash in hand.

So in the end, we don't expect to see any earth-shattering announcements from the likes of Walmart, Target, Best Buy and Kohl's. Forget caving to public pressure – they know that shoppers are at their beck and call. If you want a shot at a stellar 4K TV doorbuster, you'll suck it up and be there. Even if your heart is full of resentment.

2017 Black Friday Store Hours Predictions

There are our predictions for the Black Friday store hours at some of the most popular merchants.

  • Best Buy - Thursday at 5pm
    Best Buy has been holding steady at 5pm for a couple years now, and we think they'll stay put.
  • Home Depot - Friday at 6am
    It'll take what the insurance folks call "an act of god" to shake Home Depot from their customary 6am Friday opening time. 
  • JCPenney - Thursday at 3pm
    They've had this start time for two years running. We're predicting little if any movement from them.
  • Kmart - Thursday at 7pm
    For the first time in several years, in 2016 Kmart stuck to their 7pm start time. It feels like a good spot for them to settle into.
  • Kohl's - Thursday at 6pm 
    Another case of part consistency serving up a solid prediction.
  • Macy's - Thursday at 5pm - CONFIRMED 10/16/17
    If anyone is going to change, I'm betting that it'll be Macy's going back to their usual 6pm start time. But for now we are going to stick with the 5pm prediction.
  • Sam's Club - Friday at 7am
    Like Home Depot, Sam's Club has never budged from their 7am Friday opening.
  • Sears - Thursday at 6pm
    They've opened their doors at 6pm for three years running, and we're looking for four.
  • Staples - Friday at 6am
    Staples was one of the first (and only) retailers to retreat from holding hours on Thanksgiving Day, and we are betting this isn't the year they go back.
  • Target - Thursday at 6pm
    If Walmart stays open on Thanksgiving as expected, there's no way that Target lets that go unanswered. Look for them to match whatever Walmart does.
  • Toys R Us - Thursday at 5pm - CONFIRMED 11/15/17
    Toys R Us has been opening their doors a 5pm on Thursday for several years now, with no sign of changing it up.
  • Walmart - Thursday at 5pm or 6pm 
    We've come to a point where Walmart owns this time slot. They seem to like it here.

Not having it? We're also keeping a list of stores that will be closed on Thanksgiving.

Cover photo: Courtesy of Target