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Stores opening early to accommodate Black Friday shoppers

ST. PAUL -- By a huge margin, most shoppers don't want stores to open on Thanksgiving, a new survey found. But that's not stopping some retailers. Toys "R" Us became the latest, saying Monday it will open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, as t...

Holiday shopping
Shoppers are reflected as they enter the Nike Store on Chicago's Magnificent Mile Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008, the day after the holiday shopping season's "Black Friday." (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

ST. PAUL -- By a huge margin, most shoppers don't want stores to open on Thanksgiving, a new survey found. But that's not stopping some retailers.

Toys "R" Us became the latest, saying Monday it will open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, as the Christmas shopping season officially begins. Wal-Mart will soon follow, opening earlier than ever at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving. A bevy of other retailers will throw their doors open at midnight.

That's fueling some backlash. Minneapolis-based Target is planning a midnight opening, which prompted one Target employee in Nebraska to start an online petition that asks Target to delay its opening until 5 a.m.

By Monday afternoon, it had attracted 55,000 signatures at Change.org.

"Encouraging people to shop in the middle of the night is bizarre," wrote one signer, Scotty Brooks. "And forcing employees to be there to help them, when they could be home with their families, is insensitive and cruel."

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But some retail industry officials see things differently.

"Movie theaters are all open on Thanksgiving, and it's a big night," noted Ellen Davis, vice president of the National Retail Federation. By Thanksgiving night, most families already have eaten and they're looking for something to do.

Besides, Davis added, "If you don't want to shop on Thanksgiving, don't shop on Thanksgiving."

For door-buster fans, Thanksgiving night promises a lot of action. On Monday, Best Buy unveiled its plans that include showing "Harry Potter

and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" to crowds outside its Richfield, Eden Prairie and Maple Grove, Minn., stores, starting at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving. The stores themselves open at midnight.

An outdoor movie in Minnesota in late November might seem a tough sell, but the Richfield-based electronics retailer is confident it will attract crowds.

"Black Friday has increasingly become an event, a ritual for so many," Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said in a statement. "And this year, Black Friday doesn't start the day after Thanksgiving, it starts the minute after Thanksgiving."

Dunn also added a thanks to Best Buy employees, "who sacrifice to be there for our customers." Earlier this month, Dunn said he felt terrible asking his employees to cut short their Thanksgiving to work. Last year, Best Buy waited until 5 a.m. on Black Friday to open.

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Meanwhile, a survey released Monday by ConsumerSearch suggested the public isn't sold on Thanksgiving Day shopping.

It found 87 percent think all stores should be closed Thanksgiving Day, compared with just 11 percent who would like them open.

But traditional Black Friday shopping remains popular, according to the survey of 1,003 adults. The survey found 61 percent of adults shop the day after Thanksgiving, mostly because of the discounts and deals. Three percent said it "gives me a break from my family."

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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