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For the first time in its 155-year history, Macy's is joining the parade of retailers turning Thanksgiving night into a shopping bonanza. Stores will open at 8 p.m. on the holiday, four hours earlier than in previous years, the company said Monday.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, Macy's is best known for its annual parade in New York City. But its new store hours could overshadow the festivities if they draw the same backlash other retailers faced for opening on turkey day in recent years.
People who weighed in on Twitter called the earlier opening everything from a "shame" to "crazy." Others said they have never shopped on Thanksgiving and never will.
Toys R Us led the "holiday creep" when it decided to open at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night two years ago. Last year, it pushed its opening to 8 p.m. Retailers including Target, Walmart, Sears and Kmart followed suit. All opened at either 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. last year and stayed open through the following day, Black Friday.
Retailers say the earlier hours appeal to customers' desire to shop following family gatherings. Macy's stores will remain open through Black Friday, says spokeswoman Holly Thomas.
As competition intensifies between brick and mortar and online retailers, stores are opening earlier and earlier to be first to offer the best deals.
The move has not sat well with employees who may have to sacrifice family time to be at work. For the past two years, employees at retailers including Target, Toys R Us and Walmart have started petitions against those stores' holiday hours, often gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures. Even Macy's attracted a petition for opening at midnight last year. None of the petitions was successful.
Still, some employees don't seem to mind the holiday hours. Manar Flynn and Trevor Brown, who work at a Macy's in McLean, Va., worked Black Friday last year and weren't bothered by having to come in at midnight.
Flynn, who called the shift "kind of fun," said she wouldn't mind working the holiday again this year: "You're getting paid for it."
Brown worked the Black Friday shift last year at another Macy's in Fairfax, Va. "It's just for a day," he said, "so it wasn't that bad."