Justina Quiterio and her two teenage daughters were in front of Kmart in Arroyo Grande at noon on Thanksgiving Day. Instead of a big meal around a table with family, they snacked in their camp chairs and fingered through newspaper inserts.
By 4 p.m., they were nearly at the head of the short line and well ahead of the crowds. At 8 p.m., they planned to buy a 40-inch flat-screen television for a song.
Like countless others across the country, the Quiterio family of San Luis Obispo was waiting outside a store instead of eating their Thanksgiving meal to take advantage of what usually happens on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Pre-empting the traditional shopping frenzy that is Black Friday, many stores have decided to start offering deals a day early.
Stores typically open in the wee hours of the morning on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday, named for the period when stores traditionally turn a profit for the year. But Black Friday openings have crept earlier and earlier over the past few years. Now, stores such as Walmart and
Toys R Us are opening their doors on Thanksgiving, hoping Americans will be willing to shop soon after they finish their pumpkin pie — or skip it all together.
Overall, about 17 percent of shoppers planned to take advantage of Thanksgiving hours, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers-Goldman Sachs survey of 1,000 consumers conducted from Nov. 15 to 18. Last year, that figure was 16 percent. For Black Friday, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, 33 percent intended to shop that day, slightly down from 34 percent in 2011.
At Arroyo Grande’s Walmart, shoppers had taken up posts in designated aisles, and balloons floating overhead were marked with the deal to be had.
“This is nothing compared to Bakersfield,” said Karri Crow, who had been in line with her husband inside
Walmart since 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Day. They planned to stay until 10 p.m. for one specific item — a 60-inch flat-screen Vizio television. It was half the regular price.
The pair had not planned to get in line, but while shopping another person persuaded Dee Crow that he wanted — needed — a new television.
The New York Times contributed to this report.