New this year: Shorter store hours Thanksgiving night

As more stores open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, the need for shoppers to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to snag a Black Friday deal is fading.

In a shift this year, two Palm Beach County malls will close in the overnight hours between Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

Last year, The Mall at Wellington Green remained open for 25 consecutive hours beginning on Thanksgiving evening.

This year, the mall will close to customers between midnight and 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

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“Based on feedback that we receive from our retailers, we made a determination that we would close,” said Rachelle Crain, the mall’s marketing director. “We still have a lot of people who want to shop on Thanksgiving evening, and our stores want to open their doors and welcome those shoppers.”

Palm Beach Outlets will also close overnight this year. In 2014, the outdoor shopping hub officially opened at midnight on Black Friday, although some of the mall’s larger tenants opened on Thanksgiving evening.

This year, the outlet center said it will close between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Black Friday.

“Anytime you see a shift like that it is a direct result of a retailer listening to the demand of consumers,” said James Miller, a spokesman for the Florida Retail Federation. “Retailers are trying to listen to their customers wants, and they are opening up at the times their customers want them to be open.”

In a push to boost sales, many retailers plan to start their Black Friday sales online beginning early Thanksgiving morning.

For the first time, Walmart plans to offer a majority of its Black Friday deals online beginning at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time on Thanksgiving. Target has also said it will offer some of its Black Friday deals online early Thanksgiving morning; while Toys R Us planned to give its rewards member early access to more than 100 Black Friday items beginning Sunday.

“There is so much attention to the online now,” said Brent Shelton, a spokesman for the Black Friday deals website, “Even for the stores that are closed on Thanksgiving, their online sites are going to be working. Because of that there is less foot traffic, especially during those late hours.”

Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise, according to the National Retail Federation.

Although some consumers have pushed back against Thanksgiving Day store openings, arguing the holiday is a time to be thankful, not to go acquire more, the national federation said more people are expected to shop on the holiday this year.

According to a federation survey, 22.3 percent say they will go to a store on Thanksgiving, up from 18.3 percent in 2014.

Still, Black Friday remains the most popular shopping day. The federation said 73.5 percent of consumers plan to shop on the day after Thanksgiving.

Benjamin K. Glaser with DealNews, a bargain-hunting website, said it seems the push for retailers to open earlier on Thanksgiving has slowed. Several retailers, including Toys R Us, BrandsMart, and Best Buy, will hold the line on Thanksgiving Day hours and open at the same time as they did last year.

“Last year, stores realized there just weren’t enough customers on Thanksgiving Day,” Glaser said. “A lot of stores were seeing really empty spaces for a lot of Thanksgiving. It cost them money.”

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