Target to cool registers 6 hours

Thanksgiving run only till midnight

Posted: November 7, 2017 at 2:18 a.m.
Updated: November 7, 2017 at 2:18 a.m.

NEW YORK -- Target is offering shoppers a breather after Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving.

The Minneapolis-based discounter said Monday that it will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and then close at midnight. Its stores will then reopen at 6 a.m. on Friday until 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or midnight.

That's different from last year when it kept the stores open straight through the night.

Target again will offer Black Friday deals on Target.com on the morning of Thanksgiving. In a lead-up to the holiday, it will dangle select deals starting Monday, as it has for the past four years.

Like other retailers, Target is trying to figure out what makes sense for its customers who are jumping back and forth between online and the stores. It learned that while shoppers like the opportunity to shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday at its stores, the crowds thinned out in the wee hours of the morning. Store executives also said the new hours gives employees a chance to refresh merchandise.

Most Macy's stores will open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and close at 2 a.m., similar to last year. It will reopen 6 a.m. local time on Black Friday.

But some stores are sticking with marathon shopping hours.

Kohl's and J.C. Penney are both opening stores an hour earlier on Thanksgiving than a year ago, but Penney is trying to outdo its department store rivals by a few hours. J.C. Penney said it will open at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving and stay open until 10 p.m. on Friday. Kohl's is opening at 5 p.m. and will be open straight through midnight on Black Friday.

Toys R Us will open its doors at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving and remain open for 30 straight hours.

Like many retailers, Target is also pushing more incentives for customers to come back to the store and trying to make it easier to get deals.

For the first time, when customers spend $50 on the day after Thanksgiving, they will receive a coupon for 20 percent off a future shopping trip. And nearly all of Target's Black Friday online deals will be eligible for pickup at the store, up significantly from last year.

Also new this year: Discounts will be applied automatically at checkout, with no coupons or codes required. Target also wants to reward its most loyal customers. On the day before Thanksgiving, holders of its branded credit card will get access to more than 100 Black Friday deals, compared with a handful in past years.

Target is also waiving home-delivery fees for all Christmas orders, the industry's latest shipping promotion. Electronics seller Best Buy Co. has done the same, proving that the most contested battleground for retailers this year is the so-called last mile -- getting products to customers' door.

"Retailers are competing for share, and if they are not competitive in the holiday season, consumers won't choose them next year," said Erik Morton, vice president of strategy and corporate development at e-commerce software provider CommerceHub Inc.

The moves put the spotlight on Wal-Mart, which has yet to disclose its strategy for the Black Friday promotional period. The world's biggest retailer rolled out free two-day shipping on more than 2 million items in January, and U.S. online chief Marc Lore has credited the offer with helping the company post web sales growth of at least 60 percent in recent quarters -- about double the pace of Target and Best Buy.

"Wal-Mart has them in the rearview mirror right now," Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, said.

Free-shipping deals have become increasingly essential for online sellers, even though they take a toll on the bottom line. Target has trotted out similar promotions every year since 2014. More than half of shoppers who abandon their online shopping carts do so because the delivery options were too expensive, according to a survey conducted last year by Research Now on behalf of e-commerce software provider MetaPack.

For the first time ever, more shoppers will look for gifts online than in stores this Christmas, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation. The industry association projects that total Christmas retail sales will rise as much as 4 percent this year to about $680 billion.

Information for this article was contributed Anne D'Innocenzio and by Matthew Boyle of Bloomberg News.

Business on 11/07/2017