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Retailers plan to open earlier for Black Friday rush

Posted: Wednesday, Nov 27th, 2013

Shoppers pour out the door with their purchases at the Target store in the Overlook Center in Watsonville on Black Friday in 2010. (File photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Black Friday, the traditional shopping day after Thanksgiving, is starting earlier this year as major retailers lead the charge in opening their doors on Thursday, hoping to catch customers and edge out the competition during the all-important holiday shopping season.

This year, retailers including Target, Kmart, Old Navy, Staples, J.C. Penny, Macy’s, Best Buy and Sears will open on Thanksgiving, creating a new shopping day some commentators are calling “Grey Thursday.”

In Watsonville, Target will open at 8 p.m. today and stay open all the way through Friday, closing at 11 p.m. Kmart will open even earlier, with special “doorbuster” deals starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.

At the Capitola Mall, whose anchor stores – Target, Sears, Kohls, Macy’s – are all opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving this year, a first for the only enclosed mall in Santa Cruz County, with many of the smaller, boutique mall stores following suit.

The mall’s marketing manager Bryce Root said the earlier opening hours benefit savvy shoppers looking for a deal.

“It’s a great way for customers to take advantage of all the promotions and special deals on offer,” he said.

Root said since the anchor stores were planning on opening at 8 p.m. on Thursday, it “made sense” for the other stores to open earlier, too.

And while some mall stores may not be open at 8 p.m., all of them will open by the traditional Black Friday start: midnight on Thursday.

With the extended hours, Root is expecting bigger crowds than last year and a steady stream of shoppers Thanksgiving night and into Friday. And while Root could not go into details, he said the mall takes the safety of all their shoppers as first priority and they have planned for the extra foot traffic.

To keep people engaged as they make their way through the mall, KDON D.J. Showbiz will be at the decks showcasing the latest Top 40 tunes and the mall will hold hourly raffles, starting at 11 p.m on Thursday, with the final raffle scheduled for 2 a.m.

In addition, Root said the mall would continue their “random acts of kindness” initiative they’ve done previously, where mall employees surprise shoppers with free treats that could include a free cup of coffee or gift card.

“You never know what it could be,” he said.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 140 million people plan to shop over the long Thanksgiving weekend (Thursday – Saturday), with nearly a quarter or 33 million of those intending to shop on Thanksgiving Day.

Of those who intended to shop on Thursday, 69.2 percent shopped online or in stores on Thanksgiving last year.

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