Black Friday Deals Starting Earlier Than Ever

By Paul DeBenedetto and Patrick Wall  on November 22, 2012 11:54am  | Updated on November 22, 2012 2:54pm

NEW YORK CITY — For some retailers, it was Black Thursday.

More and more retail stores creeped back their hours for Black Friday, with some going as far as opening on Thanksgiving.

Target, which last year opened at midnight on Black Friday, will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving with deals on electronics like TVs, BluRay players and Apple products.

Toys 'R' Us, which traditionally opened stores at 9 p.m. on the holiday, opened its doors at 11 a.m Thursday and will close at 6 p.m. — only to re-open two hours later at 8 p.m. for an all-night bargain-fest that will last until 11 p.m. Friday, with up to 60 percent off on toys and electronics.

Online, the deals are also well under way, with Amazon holding a "Black Friday Deals Week." Microsoft will begin their deals at midnight on Thanksgiving, and Best Buy will soon follow suit, with online deals starting Thanksgiving morning before its midnight opening on Friday.

In what has become something of a tradition, some of the earliest store openings this year happened at participating Gap stores in the city.

The Gap in Union Square was scheduled to open at 9:30 a.m Thursday, the Lincoln Square Gap at 10 a.m. and the Gap on Fordham Road in the Bronx at 9 a.m.

But not everyone is happy with the shopping craze spilling into a holiday.

On Change.org, a list of petitions against the early openings goes on for pages, with names like "Take the high road and save Thanksgiving," and "Boycott retailers on 'Blackest Thursday.'"

"I have worked at Target for six years and I really enjoy my job," said a petitioner who identified herself as C Renee from Corona, Calif. "Thanksgiving, though, is one of the three days us retail workers get off a year: a day most all of us spend with family we only get to see on that day."

"Toys r Us is a family oriented store and that is all the more reason why they should NOT be open on Thanksgiving!" someone who identified themselves as an anonymous employee from Jersey City, N.J. said. "This is a day to spend with family. Opening at 8pm is wrong and lacking compassion for their store employees."

At the Gap location at West 48th Street and Sixth Avenue, which opened its doors at noon on Thursday, a manager who declined to give his name said the 10 employees working Thanksgiving all chose the shift and will earn time-and-a-half of holiday pay.

That's already higher than normal — "so everybody's making good money," he said.

Over at the Toys 'R' Us in Times Square, staff said they didn't mind working Thanksgiving, either, because they didn't have family in the city, or came from a culture that didn't celebrate the holiday.

Instead, they said they feared the Friday rush.

"We're the epicenter of toys, and it's the biggest sales day of the year," said one female employee, 21, who declined to give her name. "Eighty percent of what we do tomorrow is calming customers down when they don't find what they are looking for.

"They get very insulted when we don't have the product that was advertised ... Defensive," she said.

A spokeswoman from Target said that earlier hours would ultimately be better for customers, who want the flexibility to shop when they want.

"Our opening time this year reflects the feedback we have heard from our guests," said the spokeswoman, Jessica Deede. "Many prefer to shop following their family gatherings rather than in the very early hours of the morning."

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