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Posted: Friday, 01 November 2013 6:15AM

Retailers target Thanksgiving to kick start Christmas

Storekeepers have bagged their Halloween treats and are now gearing up for their major shopping season...Christmas.

J.C. Penney has already announced it's opening its doors on Thanksgiving evening to kick off the holiday shopping season...the same as rival Macy's, which will open on Thanksgiving for the first time ever.

Chair of the Department of Marketing at UNO, Dr. Pamela Kennett-Hensel, says she's not surprised the stores aren't waiting for Black Friday anymore.

"It's their big money making season and they're trying to jump-start it as quickly as possible."

The Thanksgiving opening breaks a long-standing tradition for venerable retailer, Macy's. The chain says it will open its doors at 8 p.m. on that day.

The move comes as the chain faces growing pressure from other stores. Over the past few years, rivals have gotten a jump on the official start of the holiday shopping season by opening their doors increasingly earlier on Thanksgiving.

Again, Kennett-Hensel is not surprised.

"That's definitely a new trend. And, I think their perspective is simply that it gets people into the stores a little bit earlier, gets them thinking about shopping and gives the retailer a jump up on the competition."

J.C. Penney will open most of its 1,100 stores at 8 p.m. on the holiday, the same as rival Macy's, and will be open 25 hours straight, closing at 9 p.m. the following day.

The Thanksgiving evening opening is much earlier than last year, when Penney didn't open until 6 a.m. Friday. That made the retailer one of the laggards for the unofficial kickoff to the season.

Macy's says it began planning early to let its employees review available shifts throughout the holiday season and volunteer for their preferred shifts, including on Thanksgiving.

And, Dr.Kennett-Hensel says she wouldn't be surprised to see the Christmas shopping season begin even earlier in the future.

"We used to talk about Black Friday being the big shopping day, the day after Thanksgiving. But, it's been encroaching more and more into the Thanksgiving holiday, as retailers try to entice the shoppers out with their best values and get them to come out earlier and spend their money and almost turn Thanksgiving into a shopping holiday, itself."

Her idea of this future 'shopping holiday'?

"I think that, maybe even next year, you'll be eating your Thanksgiving dinner in the food court at the mall."

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People : Pamela Kennett-Hensel
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