Target Corp. on Monday said it would kick off its holiday shopping season… (Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg )
Discount retailer Target Corp. joined the growing throng of merchants kicking off their holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving.
Target, which previously declined to confirm speculation it would open stores Thanksgiving night, said Monday that stores would open at 9 p.m., right after most people are finishing turkey feasts.
“We thought long and hard about when the right opening time would be,” Kathee Tesija, Target's executive vice president of merchandising, told the Associated Press.
She said that 9 p.m. struck “a perfect balance” for its customers.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has long been considered the start of the holiday shopping season, with retailers offering big discounts and early-morning deals to attract hordes of shoppers.
Retailers in recent years have been experimenting with Black Friday specials that creep into Thanksgiving. But last year saw a substantial shift, analysts say, with Thursday night overtaking Friday morning as the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, when retailers rake in up to 40% of their annual sales.
Opening times have been drifting earlier. Chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp. have announced plans for Black Friday events this year starting as early as 8 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Frustrated workers and customers say they are unhappy about cutting their family Thanksgiving dinners short.
More than 20 petitions on Change.org urge stores to open later.
Casey St. Clair of Corona went online to ask Target Corp. to "take the high road and save Thanksgiving" in her petition. Target ads leaked to Internet deal sites said the chain's stores are opening at 9 p.m. on Turkey Day.
Target, based in Minneapolis, plans to offer deals that include an Apex 32-inch LCD TV for $147 and a Nikon digital camera for $99.99 for the earlier opening. From 4 a.m. to noon, the next day, customers who spend $50 or more on clothing accessories or home products will earn a $10 Target gift card to use toward a future purchase. Target is also preparing additional early-morning specials, including Leapfrog Explorer software for $15.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.