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What is Gray Thursday?

By , November 3rd, 2014 | 5 Comments »

What is Gray Thursday?
If you have never heard the term “Gray Thursday” (also being referred to as Black Thursday) you will begin to hear it more and more in the years to come. It looks like last year securely entrenched itself as the way the Thanksgiving holiday will be celebrated each year by retailers now and in the future.

There has been a growing change when it comes to retailers and Thanksgiving over the last few years. While it wasn’t too long ago Thanksgiving was a day where only emergency shopping at the local convenience store could be done, that’s no longer the case. In fact, the majority of large, big-box retail stores are now open for at least some time on Thanksgiving, and these retailers have started to brand shopping on Thanksgiving Day as Gray Thursday.

Whether you like it or not, Gray Thursday is here to stay. The time when retailers waited to open their doors at 12:01 am on Friday are long gone. While there are a few major retailers which will remain closed for the entire day (Costco, GameStop and Nordstrom are part of this minority), most others will be open for at least a few hours before Black Friday. Currently most still limit their opening hours to Thursday night, though even that’s likely to change over time. K-Mart now opens at 6:00 am and stays open throughout the day, and remains open continuously for the entire four-day shopping weekend. Other retailers have been extending their Thanksgiving opening hours over the last couple of years an hour here and an hour there so that they are slowly creeping into the evening hours as well.

Retailers usually give two main reasons for embracing Gray Thursday. First, they note that their competitors are doing it, and to remain competitive they need to do the same. The second reason has been the rise of the Internet. They point out the Internet is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including Thanksgiving. As more retailers view Internet shopping as a direct competitor, they feel the need to keep their stores open longer hours to compete here as well.

Another issue is that Black Friday has lost a lot of its traditional meaning. While it initially meant great deals which could only be found on the Friday after Thanksgiving, today it has turned into a month-long marketing campaign. More and more stores are launching their Black Friday deals the day after Halloween. What that means is the Gray Thursday is taking on the role of what Black Friday had been in the past of the great in-store deals on a single day to launch the holiday shopping season.

In the end, it’s not only the retailers to blame for this encroachment on Thanksgiving family time. The fact is that when these stores open their doors on Gray Thursday, consumers flock to them. If consumers refused to participate with these earlier opening hours, then the stores wouldn’t open their doors. As long as consumers are willing to come, the stores will continue to be open on Thanksgiving Day.

(Photo courtesy of John Henderson)

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  • daisy says:

    The people I feel worst for are the retail workers. Now they have to work on one of the few days they traditionally got off to spend with their family. It’s never a good sign when consumerism trumps family.

  • June says:

    The way I tell if someone has their finances in order is to see if they participate in Black Friday. If you do, you usually don’t. it’s a manufactured shopping day and if you have to shop on that particular day, you need some work on your budget.

  • Louis says:

    Great article. I completly agree with your point of view on this, I can not condone comapnies like this depriving their workers of being together with their family, so that they can have the upper hand on the competition and optimize their profit margin. It starts with us, if we continue to go to these stores no matter how early they open, the less likely are the odds that they will allow these hard working employees to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with their loved ones.


  • HummingbirdJuice says:

    I work for a big retailer the”RED”one not the Blue one.
    Our schedule is midnight on Friday morning. Some have to be at work on Thursday 4 and 5 pm for opening at 6pm on Thursday. Its disgusting. I’m of course happy to be employed as it is still hard to get a job, harder over 40 years old. This also means no Thanks giving with family as even though we are not scheduled due to having to be in bed at least by 3pm to be rested enough for the onslaught on Friday. I work at the busiest store in my area.

  • gianna says:

    wow i cant belive it soooooooooooooooo wring


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