Black Friday shopping: Stores catch holiday spirit — for family or profit (Knoxville News Sentinel)

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Jim Gaines, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee

Published 8:00 a.m. ET Nov. 20, 2017

As some retailers pull back from Thanksgiving openings, outdoor gear store REI is going them one better. Instead of opening on the holiday to get a jump on Black Friday shopping, REI will keep all its 154 stores closed not just Thanksgiving but Black Friday as well. 

The closure and associated #OptOutside campaign seeks to encourage employees and customers to spend the day in nature, using public lands, said Lisa Ivester, outdoor programs and outreach coordinator at the Knoxville REI store on Papermill Drive NW.

“We're always closed on Thanksgiving, but this is the third year we've done #OptOutside,” she said. "It's a big social media movement as well.”

Participants are asked to post pictures of their recreational day at www.rei.com/opt-outside with the hashtag, which will bring up similar users’ pictures and resources such as trail maps, Ivester said.

Last year, the hashtag got over a million uses, and it’s catching on with other companies, she said.

Other retailers are taking different approaches to the start of the Christmas sales season. Amazon.com isn’t waiting for Cyber Monday to eat into brick-and-mortar retailers’ sales. On Nov. 1, it began posting special offers at amazon.com/blackfriday, dubbed The Black Friday Deals Store.

For those with physical stores, practices vary. Walmart’s many area locations are generally expected to stick to their 24-hour schedule on Thanksgiving. Its advertised Black Friday deals start at 6 p.m. in-store on Thanksgiving itself, according to the company’s website. Black Friday deals will be available “all day” on Thanksgiving at walmart.com.

Costco, which has one location in Farragut, stays closed for Thanksgiving. On Black Friday the store will open at 9 a.m., an hour earlier than usual.

Knoxville Center will be open 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving. The mall’s Facebook page says it will be open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday; it’s normally open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Though JC Penney closed this year, anchor stores Belk and Sears remain at Knoxville Center along with several dozen other retail tenants.

Similarly, West Town Mall will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and stay open to 1 a.m. It will reopen for Black Friday just five hours later, and stay open until 10 p.m. Most of the mall’s stores are expected to be open.

Shoppers pour through West Town Mall in Knoxville for Black Friday deals on Nov. 23, 2012. (Photo: Amy Smotherman Burgess, Knoxville News Sentinel)

Store hours at Turkey Creek vary by store, since the shopping center isn’t enclosed. For example, the center’s Bed Bath & Beyond will be closed Thanksgiving, reopening 6 a.m. Black Friday; while the Belk will be open 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving, then 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Black Friday.

Shoe Carnival’s two Knoxville locations, one in Turkey Creek and one near Knoxville Center, will be closed Thanksgiving like the rest of the company’s stores.

“It is with great pleasure that we show our gratitude and appreciation to all Shoe Carnival employees with Thanksgiving Day off for them to spend time with family and friends,” Shoe Carnival President and CEO Cliff Sifford said in an Oct. 23 news release.

The first 100 customers in line on Black Friday will get a $10 coupon when the stores open at 6 a.m., according to a Shoe Carnival news release. Sales start in advance online at shoecarnival.com.

Academy Sports + Outdoors is giving its 23,000 employees Thanksgiving off to “spend more time with family and friends,” the company announced last month. Academy has one Knoxville store, on Moss Grove Boulevard.

Academy stores will open at 5 a.m. Black Friday, but the outdoor gear store is offering online deals in anticipation of Thanksgiving itself: free shipping on turkey fryers, priced from $39.99 to $129.99.

Best Buy employees Valesca Morazan, left, and Jeff Hamner, center, restock the entrance ready for Black Friday shoppers Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. Best Buy was open Thursday evening also. (Photo: Michael Patrick/News Sentinel)

Tractor Supply Co. will open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday, but its employees will get a holiday break before that.

“Tractor Supply Co. stores will be closed on Thanksgiving so our team members can spend the holiday with their loved ones,” John Ordus, senior vice president of store operations, said in a news release. “Our stores will be open on Friday for the holiday season and our team members will be ready to offer the legendary customer service and great products we’re known for.”

Tractor Supply has 1,665 stores but just one Knoxville location, on Maynardville Pike.

Black Friday boosts smaller local businesses, not just big-box retailers, according to a study by business software provider Womply.

“We analyzed transactions at nearly 1,650 local retailers in Tennessee during the 2016 holiday season and found that Black Friday and Dec. 23 were the biggest revenue days with 184 percent and 152 percent of normal daily revenue, respectively,” Womply Communications Specialist Dan Lalli said in a news release. “For comparison, small retailers pulled in 143 percent of average daily revenue on Small Business Saturday.”

Small Business Saturday is the day after Black Friday.

“This analysis suggests that the consumers are drawn to the rush of Black Friday and then tend to procrastinate shopping until the last minute,” Lalli wrote.