Retailers eye good sales with shopping marathon

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SummaryAdd this to the list of things some people are thankful for: Stores open on Thanksgiving Day.

Add this to the list of things some people are thankful for: Stores open on Thanksgiving Day. That’s how Janet Guerrero, 24, felt when shopping on Thursday afternoon at a Wal-Mart in Westbury, Long Island, because she had nothing to wear to dinner. “It’s an emergency,” she said.

This year, Target has joined Walmart and Gap in being open at least part of the day, and some retailers will be open throughout the day, a trend that began to take hold in 2011. Walmart’s US discount stores, which have been open on Thanksgiving Day since 1988, will offer some “Black Friday” deals at 8 pm and special deals on some electronics at 10 pm. Target has moved its opening from midnight to 9 pm on Thursday and Toys R Us is opening at 8 pm.

“It’s a recognition that retailers need to be more aggressive and want to show their physical stores are important,” Moody’s senior analyst Charles O'Shea said.

While he didn’t see enormous crowds out in Vauxhall, New Jersey, he did see about 15 people lined up already at a Best Buy, which opens at midnight. At a Target in Westbury, only two lone shoppers were in line for a 9 pm opening. Still, for retailers, any crowd could make the effort worth it.

Other retailers, such as JC Penney Co, are holding out and will not open until Friday morning, so shoppers trying to get all the deals will need a lot of stamina. “The retailers are taking what was a very plannable sport that was four or five hours where you can get things done and turned it into a marathon,” Trutina financial chief investment officer Patty Edwards said. “I think they have diluted the sport.”

The stakes are high for US retailers, which can earn more than a third of their annual sales in the holiday season. Investors hope holiday sales will help retail stocks cap a strong year. The National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, forecast a 4.1% increase in retail sales during the November-December holiday period this year, down from the 5.6% increase seen in 2011.

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