A real-life Miracle on 34th Street is playing out this shopping season, says Winthrop University marketing professor Jane Thomas.
In the movie, if Macys department store did something, then Gimbels department store responded.
In 2013, two of the stores helping to create a rush to shop on Thanksgiving are Kmart and JC Penney, Thomas said Tuesday.
Both stores have not been performing well and are pulling out all the stops to gain more customer share this holiday season. Kmart had Thanksgiving hours last year, but JC Penney was among the last major retailers to open with a 6 a.m. start on Black Friday.
Not this year.
Other stores offering Thanksgiving hours last year included Toys R Us, Target, Sears, and Walmart, as most of its super centers are routinely open 24 hours.
This year, Macys will join the list of those opening Thanksgiving, the first time the stores opened on Thanksgiving in its 155-year history. With Macys open, Belk will be open too, not wanting to lose any customers or sales.
And the list goes on. More than 30 major retailers have decided to open on all or a part of Thanksgiving. Kmart will open 6 a.m. Thursday with door-buster sales and remain open for 41 hours.
Some polls suggest people are turned off by opening for Thanksgiving sales. But Thomas said there are always the adventurous shoppers that enjoy the thrill of chasing the best deals.
And while the Internet offers attractive buying alternatives and its own Cyber Monday sales retailers will continue to push to get shoppers into their brick-and-mortar stores. Shoppers in stores are more likely to make an impulse purchase than online, Thomas said.
Weather and the lack of a blockbuster movie at the theaters will affect upcoming shopping days, she said.
While the big retailers will likely share customers by opening earlier and staying open later, several local retailers are content to rest on Thanksgiving, confident their customers will come during regular hours on Friday and then on Saturday which has become known as Small Business Saturday.
The big retailers are just grasping for more sales, said Daphne Mahon, owner of Legacys Child and Palmetto Shop on Herlong Avenue.
Mahon, who has owned the shop for 16 years, has tried opening earlier on Black Friday, even giving away doughnuts to attract customers. But the time spent wasnt profitable, she said, we will be there when our customers need us to be there.
Gently used-clothing reseller Platos Closet is in the same shopping mall with Kohls that will open at 8 p.m. Thursday. But co-owner Kha Stewart said Platos Closet will keep its regular hours. Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy, she said. On Friday there will be a 20-percent discount, however.
The outlook for the holiday shopping season is optimistically guarded, several analysts have said. MasterCard estimates Black Friday retails sales will be about $20 billion, down from last years record $21 billion. Cyber Monday sales are expected to be about $1.8 billion, according to American Express.
Wells Fargo economists estimate that holiday sales will rise 3.7 percent over last years levels, roughly in line with the National Retail Federations projected 3.9 percent increase
Spending per person appears softer than last year, as the National Retail Federations holiday spending survey estimates the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 compared with $752.24 last year
Regardless of the outcome of sales on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Thomas said some of the best deals of the season are still be announced. She said that the weekend of Dec. 15 may hold the seasons best deals.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066