We kind of saw it creeping up on us last year, but this year it's in full force.Target, Sears, Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us and other stores are opening as early as 8pm Thanksgiving Eve.  Others, such as Best Buy, are 'waiting' until midnight.  It's almost to the point where if you open at 1 or 2am, you're far behind everyone else!

What are the real reasons behind this?  Experts at Marketwatch claim we, the consumer, are partly to blame.  Before you get all upset,  consider this:

  • (According to Marketwatch) It actually began with the huge upswing in internet shopping that occured on Thanksgiving itself.   Experts say considerable 'downtime' waiting for the big Thanksgiving dinner, plus boredom led to a big jump in consumer online spending.  Retailers began to notice this over the last 3 years.
  • The 'brick and mortar' store chains didn't ignore this.  They've been watching closely online sales (which have increased 41% over the last two Cyber Mondays), and decided if people are going to shop online on Thanksgiving, why not give them reasons to come to the store.
  • Retailers who opened late Thanksgiving evening last year saw a 22% jump in retail sales, so apparently infringing upon the family holiday paid off.

Marshall Cohen, the chief industry analyst at the retail research group NPD Group had this to say:

“Retailers have basically ruined every holiday, They have commercialized every single holiday by creating a good reason to promote something and drive traffic.”

But before you totally blame the retailers, consider what else Marketwatch had to say about Black Thursday:

"They do it for the simple reason that, well, they can. It follows that adage from “Field of Dreams” that if you build it, they will come. If you open the store earlier, they will shop."

So before we start demonizing retailers and stores, think about this:  if stores were empty on Black Thursday, you would definitely not see it again the next year.  In this economy, retailers cannot afford to open for special events if it's not going to produce strong results.    Maybe we need to re-examine the purpose of Thanksgiving, and why it's important to us.

A recent Google survey (based upon 2011 data) shows nearly 1 in 3 Americans will be out on Black Friday, numbers sure to trickle over into Black Thursday, and the study showed 57% of Americans who get up at  "0-dark-:30" to participate enjoy it!

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