"As long as it doesn't affect them directly, they probably don't think too much about it," Ken Perkins of Retail Metrics Inc. told the Los Angeles Times, referring to discount-hungry early shoppers who are likely to ignore petitioning to stop the erosion of the Thanksgiving holiday.
In the annual cycle of the retail sector, the holiday shopping season kicks off with an event known as Black Friday, which has traditionally been the day after Thanksgiving Day. It signals the day retail ledgers go from red ink to black ink, which is the color accountants traditionally use to indicate profits.
But heavyweight retailers, such as Walmart, are starting their Black Friday discounts earlier than ever with some opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day.
Although many Walmart stores have been open all day on Thanksgiving for years, their Black Friday discounts are scheduled to kick in at 8 p.m. that Thursday this year. Sears, which opened at 4 a.m. on Friday last year, is matching Walmart's opening time this year.
Other stores are likely to join in the early-shopping sales creep, given Walmart's role as the trend-setter for U.S. retail.
Not everyone is happy about stores encroaching on the national day of humility and gratitude.
"People are being kept from seeing family and enjoying a holiday which should be a time of giving thanks, not going out to spend money on stuff we don't need. Their decision to open their stores on a holiday is disgraceful, greedy and disrespectful to everyone," consumer Brian Zinn wrote on a website posting alongside a petition to stop stores from interrupting the holiday.
In an online posting at Change.org, Casey St. Clair of Corona, Calif., requested that Target Corp., "Take the high road and save Thanksgiving for employees like me and our families by saying no to 'Thanksgiving Creep.'"
But chain stores now compete with Internet retailers, which are open 24 hours a day.
The way to compete is to "open up early and have hot sale items, so people think they have to eat the turkey and run to the store," said Ron Friedman, a retail consultant in Los Angeles.