MINNEAPOLIS -- 'Tis the season to shop, and now even earlier this year. Black Friday actually begins on Thursday for stores like Wal-Mart, Toys R US, Sears and Target.
At Target, shelves are decked and decorations hung with visions of sales galore. Black Friday shoppers get an earlier Christmas gift this year, with doors opening at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night. Target announced earlier than ever doorbusters, calling it an "after dinner event for the family."
"I'll be here, definitely I will be here," said Paco Khalafalla, a devout Target shopper who plans to score some deals, mainly a new TV.
But, not everyone is as enthusiastic, and some employees are creating a Black Friday backlash.
On Change.org, a Target employee from California, Casey St. Clair, started a petition to "Take the high road and save Thanksgiving" for family time. More than 158,000 people signed in support, similar to last year, when employees protested Target's midnight opening.
"I currently work two jobs, substitute teach and work Target at nights and weekends, so having Thanksgiving off really does give me that one day to relax and visit family I otherwise have no time to see," St. Clair wrote on her petition.
Target Spokesperson Molly Snyder said Target's opening time was carefully evaluated with guests, the Target team and the business in mind.
"It's a valid point, Thanksgiving is a family day, how far are we going to go for retail and commercialism?," said Mary Tuominen, a Target shopper, whose grandson will work at Walgreen's on Thanksgiving Day.
University of St. Thomas marketing professor Jon Seltzer says it comes down to competition, and stores like Target are simply supplying a demand, where workforce staffing is critically important.
"In fact, across the country, team member preferences were considered in creating our store staffing schedules. Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest of the year, and we appreciate our Target team's flexibility on this weekend and throughout the holiday season," she said.
"There is an appetite for shopping and it's becoming earlier and earlier," he said. "Nobody wants to come in second in that race, it's really a question of people are thinking about shopping, and they want to go shopping."Paco Khalafalla still will be shopping, even though this year, his job at a call center requires him to work on Thanksgiving too.
"It's part of my paycheck, I get a lot of time to spend time with my family on days off and I use that time wisely," he said.
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