MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – This year the Black Friday stampede will start earlier than ever.

Best Buy, Toys “R” US and JC Penney have all announced they will open at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Target is joining Sears, Kohl’s and Macy’s with 6 p.m. Thanksgiving openings. Last year those four stores opened at 8 p.m.

Experts say it’s all about keeping up with the competition.

“The treadmill is getting faster. The competition is getting fiercer and fiercer, not just between the various retailers but between the retailers and Internet providers,” David Vang, a professor at the University of St. Thomas, said.

Thanksgiving hours have drawn protests. In 2011, Target employees even delivered  a petition to Target headquarters to complain. And many consumers, like Stacey Stillmunkes, say they don’t like the idea.

“I think it takes away from the family holiday. I have a mother that works in retail and it takes away from our time together,” Stillmunkes said.

But the early hours have drawn big crowds and meant big sales for retailers

This year it’s not only that retailers are going to be opening earlier on Thanksgiving Day, they are also releasing those Black Friday ads even earlier. And even running special promotions before Black Friday.

Target and Best Buy already have their Black Friday ads online.

And while there are some good deals out there, Professor Vang says consumers need to realize that some of the biggest discounts may be hard to get your hands on.

“Some of the special deals may be just trying to get you into the store, so there may be a limited quantity. So, unless you are willing to be first in line to get some of these deals they may be sold out. They are trying to get volume into the store,” Vang said.

Vang believes competition and consumer demand   will eventually lead to stores being open all day on Thanksgiving Day.

Esme Murphy

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