Practical Parenting Ideas: Effects of Earlier Black Friday Shopping on Families

Friday, November 21, 2014

Effects of Earlier Black Friday Shopping on Families

Photo credit: Joshua Lott/Getty Images     

In the past few years we can see a growing trend of department stores throughout the U.S. opening earlier to drive traffic from shoppers anxious to get a good deal on gifts. Stores that traditionally open in early AM are opening at midnight or even a lot earlier. In fact, this year on Thanksgiving Day Toys R Us and Best Buy open at 5pm, along with Walmart and Target at 6pm. Aren't you generally still eating dinner at that time?

Just 4 years ago Toys R Us opened at 10pm on Thursday with most other stores opening at midnight or later. We can speculate that Toys R Us started the trend in 2009 by opening at midnight, where other stores were opening sometime between 3am and 9am, most commonly at 5am.  

The trend continued. 2 years ago, Toys R Us and Walmart both opened at 8pm and Target at 9pm Thanksgiving Day. Some stores also started pre-Black Friday sales a week or two in advance. What are the possible effects of this growing trend? Let’s explore.

The Up-Side
  • Earlier and varied opening times means more time for shoppers to get to each store on their list. Although easily turned into pulling an all-nighter, they could have time to get a lot of good deals. A good idea is taking “shifts” with other family members or friends 
  • There may be bigger crowds, but increased security in many stores can help with the chaos
  • Retail establishments that open earlier may get more traffic from individuals that don’t want to stay up all night (Why not get shopping done and get to bed at a decent hour).
  • Overall, although some say it takes away from Thanksgiving, many individuals already spend a good portion of Thanksgiving searching ads and planning out their shopping. Some even make a family activity out of it

The Down-Side
  • Rather than spending the end of Thanksgiving Day enjoying family’s company, more will be heading out to wait in lines and shop
  • Inevitably those employed in retail spend more of the holiday working away from their families
  • Losing sleep from staying up all night could make for dangerous roads as a result of sleepy drivers. Also crowds will be bigger (and crazier) with opening times spaced out enough to allow shoppers to drive from one to the next for opening
  • Overall, the focus is turning more and more to Black Friday, rather than Thanksgiving being a time well spent with our families in reflection of our heritage and blessings

The Bottom Line

Although early Black Friday times seem to be an increasing distraction from Thanksgiving celebrations, they don't need to be. By planning your family events before the holiday, you can decide what, if any, Black Friday sales you'd like to participate in and how to fit shopping around your time together. Just keep in mind to be as courteous as possible if you decide to join the crowds. After all, it is the holidays!

What do you think about earlier Black Friday times? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

*You might also like: 12+ Stores with Black Friday Deals

Original article posted by Debi Walstad, owner of Practical Parenting, on

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