Black Friday 2011: Toys R Us, Target and Kmart Thanksgiving hours full of protests

Black Friday shopping fever is close at hand, and several large retailers are attempting to get a leg up on the competition by opening on Thursday evening, much to the chagrin of some employees. As Bloomberg reported:

Anthony Hardwick says he resents working at Target Corp. on Thanksgiving and has garnered more than 37,000 signatures on an online protest petition.

Target, Macy’s Inc., Gap Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Toys “R” Us Inc. and Best Buy Co. all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.

Hardwick, 29, who says he has been a Target parking attendant in Omaha, Nebraska, for three years, began the petition two weeks ago on the website after learning that he and his coworkers would be required to start at 11 p.m. Nov. 24 for a 10-hour shift.

“I was so disappointed the day I found out about this because I did the math in my head and I was going to have to go to bed in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving to go in and work 10 hours,” Hardwick said in a telephone interview. “Everyone at work was resigned because the economy is bad and so our employer has us over a barrel.”

Hardwick said he hasn’t heard from Target and that he fears losing his job for starting the protest and speaking to the media.

The extension of Black Friday shopping hours into Thursday has caused many to decry the encroachment on Thanksgiving. As Ylan Q. Mui explained:

Thanksgiving is under assault.

Stores that once closed their doors in deference to the holiday are now touting Turkey Day deals starting as early as 9 p.m. Workers who should be on vacation are answering office e-mails on their smartphones. And those who plan on celebrating with a traditional dinner are finding that the cost of a bird is near its 30-year high, according to government data.

“I think we have a sort of Norman Rockwell view of Thanksgiving,” said Kit Yarrow, head of the psychology department at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “It’s not really linked to reality for most Americans.”

Thanksgiving has long been in danger of getting subsumed by Christmas. Every year, Americans bemoan the encroachment of pine trees and presents on pilgrims and pumpkin pie, a phenomenon the retail industry calls “Christmas creep.” But for many, a line seems to have been crossed.

“RESPECT THE BIRD!!!” Doug Matthews, 49, an avid amateur chef from New Jersey, proclaimed in a blog post.

Matthews said he penned the diatribe last year when he spied Christmas candy on the shelf at a grocery store before the Halloween treats had been discounted. He took his rant to the social cooking site, where he had been posting recipes for corn muffins, carrot salad and other dishes for nearly 15 years.

Some shoppers will stay in instead of braving long lines, and many will use their phones to take advantage of Black Friday deals from home. As Hayley Tsukayama reported :

This year, holiday shoppers are expected to turn to their smartphones more than they ever have before. That’s the takeaway from a study by mobile ad network InMobi, released Thursday.

According to InMobi’s survey, 60 million mobile users will shop on Black Friday using their smartphones and 21 million intend to purchase goods directly from their mobile devices. That number is even higher with the more tech-focused Cyber Monday shoppers — the survey found 42 percent of shoppers plan to use their mobile devices to shop for gadgets and electronics.

More generally, smartphones have become an indispensable tool for holiday shoppers who are using them more often to compare prices and read reviews in stores. According to the study, 45 percent of shoppers will use their phones for price comparisons while shopping, up from 22 percent last year.

Shoppers also use their phones to check store hours and locations before heading to the mall. Wal-Mart recently released new iPhone and iPad apps that allow customers to check the inventory of their local stores during the holiday season.