SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Business

November 20, 2013

Stuffed with sales

Blue Laws prevent shopping on Thanksgiving, but malls open at 12:30 a.m. Friday

PEABODY — The Northshore and Liberty Tree malls are gearing up to handle hordes of turkey-stuffed shoppers seeking Black Friday doorbusters.

Both malls will be open at 12:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, for the second year in a row. But the state’s Blue Laws will prevent them from pushing their opening back even earlier, to Thanksgiving evening, as is the case in 47 other states.

And quite a few shoppers at the Northshore Mall this last Wednesday said that’s fine by them.

”Thanksgiving should be off, you know,” said Kevin Little of Salem, who said there is already enough commercialization around the holidays as is.

Mark Whiting, general manager of the Northshore Mall, said the 12:30 a.m. opening last year — the first time the mall tried it — worked out well.

”Honestly, we had strong customer traffic right from the get-go last year,” Whiting said.

The National Retail Federation forecasts a 3.9 percent jump in holiday sales over last year, with shoppers plunking down $609 billion for those perfect gifts. Added impetus comes from the calendar — Thanksgiving falls as late as it can be this year, shortening the holiday shopping season.

”For us, that places extra importance on supporting our retailers and making sure we don’t miss a beat,” Whiting said.

It also means big expectations for the day after Thanksgiving.

”I think Black Friday will be a huge, huge day,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

In other parts of the country, many retailers are opening on Thanksgiving evening, allowing shoppers to get a jump on Black Friday deals. Kmart is even offering doorbusters starting at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning in other parts of the country.

In Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island, however, Blue Laws restrict retailers from opening on Thanksgiving.

While there’s some debate about whether opening on Thanksgiving helps sales or causes a backlash, there’s evidence that consumers want to shop as early as possible, according to a recent National Retail Federation blog post.

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