Anyone who likes the shop the Black Friday “doorbuster” deals will have to eat Thanksgiving dinner quickly this year, because retailers are opening their doors earlier than ever. Walmart’s Black Friday deals begin at 6 pm on Thanksgiving, and many other big stores will be open by 8 pm.
Executives say it’s a response to consumer demand: Consumers would rather stay up late than get up at the crack of dawn. Analysts have pointed out it’s an especially cutthroat market this year because an unusually late Thanksgiving means retailers have fewer days to get people in the door before Christmas.
Not everyone thinks earlier hours are a good idea. Consumers and workers have called executives “heartless” for making employees work on Thanksgiving instead of spending time with their families. Retailers have been quick to say they’re paying workers time-and-a-half, but Black Friday has long been symbolic of big retailers’ indifference to workers’ well-being. (Remember the trampling death at a Long Island Walmart in 2008?) Similar to previous years, workers around the country are planning living wage protests for this Black Friday.
Looking back a few years, it’s clear the momentum for earlier and earlier Black Friday openings took off during the recession years when retailers desperately hoped Black Friday would live up to its name and put them in the black. Online shopping has changed the game, too, but it wasn’t that many years ago that retailers politely waited until 5 or 6 am to open their doors.
This chart shows the Black Friday opening times for several major retailers going back to 2006. (Some stores, like Walmarts, are open 24 hours including on Thanksgiving; times reflect when the Black Friday deals begin.)