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Black Friday used to be the official kickoff to the buying season, but more than a dozen chains opened on Thanksgiving this year.
That didn't sit well with some shoppers who viewed it as an encroachment on family time. Some threatened to boycott stores that opened on the holiday, while others decided to forgo shopping altogether.
In a poll of 6,200 shoppers conducted for the retail federation prior to the start of the season, 38 percent didn't plan to shop during the Thanksgiving weekend, up from 34.8 percent the year before.
Ruth Kleinman, 30, isn't planning to shop the entire season in part because she's disheartened by the holiday openings. The New Yorker says the holiday season "has really disintegrated."
While some shoppers didn't approve, analysts say stores will need to open on the holiday to appeal to the masses. Overall sales declined over the holiday weekend, but several retailers said there were big crowds on Thanksgiving. "Customers clearly showed that they wanted to be out shopping," says Amy von Walter, a Best Buy spokeswoman.
Analysts say stores will need to redefine Thanksgiving as a family tradition beyond sitting at the table eating turkey to make more shoppers comfortable.
"They have to show that they're maintaining a family tradition in new ways," says Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at market research firm NPD Group.
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