Shoppers hungry for deals after Thanksgiving can find retail giant Macy's added to the list of stores kicking off "Black Friday" sales on Thanksgiving Thursday. It's the first time the store has been opened on Thanksgiving, typically known for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, in its 100-plus year history.
Macy's will open the doors at most of its 800 department stores at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28 this year. The company said the shift was voluntary for workers and that the move was "consistent with what many rivals are doing."
Traditionally, retailers have waited until Black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving, to start their end-of-the-year push for sales, but that's out the window this year. Following the trend set by Walmart and Target in years past, Macy's is leading the charge of businesses opening early to get a jump on Christmas shopping.
But analysts say don't blame Macy's for elbowing in on family time. They're just responding to the new conditions of the market - Thanksgiving has become one of the fastest-growing shopping days online.
According to data from comScore, online spending on Thanksgiving Day increased 32 percent from 2011 to 2012 (and over the past five years has increased 132 percent).
Meanwhile Black Friday online spending increased just 28 percent over last year and 96 percent over the past five years. Cyber Monday, the Monday immediately following the holiday, has seen spending increase 17 percent over last year and 100 percent over five years. Those are not small numbers and brick-and-mortar stores like Macy's are looking to crash the online retail party.
"Thanksgiving has become a marquee day for online shopping," says Keith Mercier, associate partner with IBM's Retail Center of Competence.
The total online spend for Thanksgiving Day was $633 million last year. But that's small potatoes compared to more than $1 billion that was spent on Black Friday online and the nearly $1.5 billion on Cyber Monday last year, according to comScore.
Black Friday is so named because it's when most stores go into the black. Moving forward, many stores are looking to move that day forward in the week.
Many retailers, including Macy's, reported disappointing second-quarter sales, pressuring them to try to make up those sales during the holiday season.
Macy's opened most of its stores at midnight in 2011 and 2012 to kick off Black Friday sales.