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Stores stay closed for Thanksgiving while Black Friday shifts online

Dr. Jacob Hiler, an expert in consumer research at Ohio University, says the changes have a lot to do with the pandemic.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Many retailers chose to open their doors on Thanksgiving back in 2018, but this year, many doors stayed shut.

Dr. Jacob Hiler, an expert in consumer research at Ohio University, says it has a lot to do with the pandemic.

“They're trying to limit the amount of store hours that are available for both customers and employees to keep people safe and they had to shift a lot of their Black Friday deals to e-commerce and online,” said Dr. Hiler.

Target made a commitment this week to never open again on Thanksgiving. Walmart, Kohls and Best Buy are also closed but have not committed to the future. But with retailers staying closed, Dr. Hiler says you'll see more deals online and for longer.

“In order to compete with other competitors, they would have to push it even further out into the week. I think that trend is still continuing, but it's just being shifted online because of the pandemic and because the shift in the way in which consumers are choosing to shop for deals,” said Dr. Hiler.

But with a lot of shopping online those long lines outside of stores are gone, which Dr. Hiler says has its drawbacks for some big-ticket items. It leaves room for scalpers to get first dibs on items with the use of bots.

“There are scalpers who will use bots that will automatically basically just crash websites because there's so much traffic being driven to the website. Which you could say that's akin to waiting in a long line. The way I kind of like to think about it is if you wait in a long line to get one of these hot items and you had to camp out overnight, that's a lot of work, that's a lot of time and effort,” said Dr. Hiler.

Dr. Hiler said many will still choose to go out shopping on Friday, especially those who he calls "treasure hunters," looking for the best deals.

Here's when some big stores will open on Black Friday:

  • Walmart, Kohls, Best Buy open at 5 a.m.
  • Meijer opens at 6 a.m.
  • Target opens at 7 a.m.

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