October 23, 2013

Macy’s to Start Black Friday on Thanksgiving Night: Smart Move or Marketing Mistake?

by Ken Gaebler

Black Friday is a retail institution among U.S. consumers. After filling themselves with Thanksgiving fare the day before, hordes of consumers wake up in the early morning hours to stand in line, eager to take advantage of the Black Friday sales being offered by their favorite retailers.

But over the past few years, several major retailers have pushed back the launch of Black Friday to midnight or even earlier. Recently, Macy’s announced that it would join the club and open its doors to holiday shoppers at 8 PM on Thanksgiving Day, and that stores would remain open for a full 24-hour period.

Macy’s has stated that the reason behind its decision is to cater to the needs of consumers who prefer to start shopping earlier than the brand’s traditional Black Friday opening. Macy’s decision to open on Thanksgiving was also influenced by the marketplace, since other large retailers including Sears, Lord & Taylor, Target and WalMart have already demonstrated a willingness to open on Thanksgiving rather than waiting until the next morning.

However, not everyone has welcomed Macy’s decision with open arms. Many of the brand’s store employees have reported disappointment in their employer’s plans to open on Thanksgiving Day. In some instances, workers have gone so far as to say that Macy’s has violated a “sacred” boundary, forcing store staff to give up holiday time with their families for the sake of additional sales.

So for Macy’s — and other retailers — the big question is whether or not the decision to open early is worth the negative feelings it creates among employees. Motivating employees is an important part of successful retail. But with so many retailers pushing back the clock on the holiday season, it’s likely that even more stores will opt for early openings on future Black Fridays.

This post was originally published 10.21.13 on

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