While many merchants began decorating for the holidays weeks ago, the holiday shopping season begins in earnest this week with more stores than ever opening on Thanksgiving Day.
The Galleria mall on Dave Lyle Boulevard is opening on Thanksgiving Day for the first time this year. The mall opens at 6 p.m. Thursday and will stay open all night. Hours for individual stores will vary.
The National Retail Federation estimates the number of Thanksgiving shoppers will actually drop this year, with 25.6 million people, or 18.3 percent of likely weekend shoppers, planning to shop that day. Last year about 23.5 percent of the people who were expected to shop over the holiday weekend planned to shop on Thanksgiving.
Overall, the federation estimates that six out of ten people, or about 140 million, will shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, down slightly from 140.3 million last year.
Marianne Bickle, chair of the retailing and fashion merchandising department at the University of South Carolina, says the number of Thanksgiving-Day shoppers is not a signal that the day will soon become just another shopping day before Christmas with stores open all day.
“Thanksgiving will still remain a day of thanks,” she said. “It’s a time with family, a time of traditions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things.”
Black Friday continues to be the shopping draw as the retail federation estimates 68.2 percent of all shoppers will be out that day.
Estimates of what Americans will average on Christmas spending are on the rise, but not yet to pre-recession levels, according to a Gallup Poll. The October 2014 estimate is $781, up from $704 in 2013. The estimate usually falls slightly when people are polled in November. The pre-recession spending high was $909 in 2007.