Staggered opening times mean Black Friday shoppers will arrive in waves

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An army of shoppers descending en masse on retailers Black Friday morning? So three years ago.

This year they'll arrive a few battalions at a time, shopping in shifts with evening, late night, and early morning start times.

The day after Thanksgiving was long regarded as the busiest shopping day of the year. But recently a "why wait?" philosophy has spread and store openings spilled over into Thursday. The Pioneer Press reports that will make for a rolling Black Friday, with some stores opening at 8 p.m., others at midnight, and more on Friday morning.

And now that Black Friday is no longer a monolith, each wave of shoppers will have its own personality. A specialist at a retail analytics firm tells the Pioneer Press the earlier openings were pushed by the younger generation and the demographics of shoppers will age as the weekend progresses.

As the Star Tribune reports, some of the retailers whose doors open closer to sunrise now feel obliged to explain that decision to customers. The paper says Menard's plans to post a note on its doors calling Thanksgiving a time for togetherness, while a TV ad for Mills Fleet Farm proclaims it a day for family, food, and football.

A retail expert tells the Star Trib that, while stores like to portray their decision as motivated by family values, it's likely that dollars and cents have just as much to do with it. “The bottom line is they’re not open because they did the math and it doesn’t make sense. … They can’t possibly sell enough to cover the cost,” Laura Gurski of the consulting firm A.T. Kearney says.

Independent businesses with small staffs have trouble matching the long hours their big box competitors will offer this weekend. In downtown Rochester those mom-and-pops tried to get a jump on things by promoting "Whiteout Wednesday," KAAL reports.

But FOX 9 tells us that on Thanksgiving eve the busiest stores were those selling groceries.

The Star Tribune offers an overview of what's open and not open on the holiday.

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