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Black Friday starting earlier and earlier in Madison

Retailers counting on shoppers to be there Thanksgiving night

MADISON, Wis. - 23023762

Closing up another weekend at Anthology, Laura Komai noticed shoppers already preparing for holiday gift-giving.

The co-owner typically sees her biggest sales in the week or so before Christmas, which is why she said she's even more confused by the decision by most big box stores to open earlier than ever for Black Friday.

"If I go out shopping on Thanksgiving, it requires a whole avalanche of people to be there and not be home for Thanksgiving, and I just don't think that's necessary," Komai said.

Walmart announced stores will open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving night. Target will open at 8 p.m.

Bill Tait manages the Best Buy on Madison's east side and said the 6 p.m. opening time at his store will make things more convenient for customers who no longer need to camp out for good deals on technology.

"Now right when I wrap up with Thanksgiving dinner, I don't have to get up so early. I'm just going to hang out for a couple hours, and I'll be at Best Buy by midnight," Tait said. "Now with 6 p.m., that really turns it into like two shopping event days."

While he's excited about the prospect of six more shopping hours, Tait wondered when the earlier hours might have an effect on the appeal of Black Friday deals.

"I think as we continue to go earlier and earlier, I worry about running the risk of do we take the exclusiveness, specialness of that event away and does it suddenly just turn into two shopping days?" Tait said.

Kristi Line, manager at the Old Navy on Madison's west side, is used to staffing for the holiday. She said the store has been open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day for the last five years.

"This is our Super Bowl," Line explained.

Line said she expects lines of hundreds outside of the door when the store reopens at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving and a steady crowd through closing time at 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

"I think a lot of people have different traditions now, and the customer has shown us that it's something that they want," Line said, "and we've supported them in that in giving some sort of availability to our customer."

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