Burlington, NC -- Thanksgiving's being modernized from a turkey and stuffing day to a day of turkey and stuff.
That stuff - presents to be purchased for the upcoming holidays - is available this Thanksgiving not only online with a number of Thanksgiving Day deals, but also in stores as a growing number of major retail chains, from Walmart to Kmart to Sears, open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.
About 40 people lined up at the Burlington Sears store to get in when the doors opened at 7am. The same scene was duplicated at stores across the Triad.
"You save anywhere from 50 to 80 percent off items, so with the economy and budgets, people having financial troubles and things like this, every penny they can save helps," said shopper Sharon Sexton.
"I came in today because I wanted to beat the crowd," said Louise Hutchens, a Burlington Sears shopper.
Sears opened its stores on Thanksgiving for the first time in its 124 year history.
"The company understands that the customers have choices," said Ernest Chandler, manager of the Burlington Sears.
"It's my first time, and that's mainly because Sears is open. That is one reason we came out," said shopper Brenda Apple, who shopped wit her mother, Naomi Simmons.
"I've got to work tomorrow, so I won't be able to enjoy the Black Friday sales," Apple said.
"Times are changing. It's not just a day of rest, we have to meet and exceed the competition," said Calvin Kendrick, who has worked for Sears for about 25 years.
"I think it's because our pace or way of living has changed and I know we still need to do traditions and things like that, but things are changing with families," Sexton said.
"Thanksgiving is not as sanctified a day as it was even a few years ago," says Thomas Hine, who wrote I Want That! How We All Became Shoppers. "This is an experiment by retailers to see how we will behave."
It's also an experiment on how to get penny-pinching consumers to spend more. Holiday sales were flat last year.
While the National Retail Federation forecasts a 2.3% rise this year to $447 billion, 81% of consumers the trade group surveyed said they will spend less this holiday because of the economy. So retailers are going all-out this Thanksgiving, "to get people away from the dessert table," says Kathy Grannis, an NRF spokeswoman. They lure shoppers by:
•Opening on Thanksgiving. For the first time, Sears will open on Thanksgiving Day from 7 a.m. to noon local time. Its sibling, Kmart, will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. local time. The move was in response to customer desire "to have an extra day to shop," says Sears' David Friedman.
For the first time, Toys R Us stores nationwide will open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
•Offering Thanksgiving in-store deals. At Sears, $42 Covington sweaters go for $8.99.
At Walmart, buy a BlackBerry, HTC, LG, Motorola or Samsung smartphone and get a $100 Walmart gift card.
•Offering Thanksgiving online deals. Walmart.com gets more traffic on Thanksgiving than any other day, says Steve Nave, general manager. That's why it will offer 150 special deals online only on the holiday - three times what it had last year.
For the first time, Staples.com is offering Thanksgiving Day deals. Acer laptops with Blu-ray DVD players, regularly $699.98, go for $499.98.
For the second year, Target.com has a Thanksgiving sale. Its $139.98 Aiptek digital camcorders are 50% off at $69.99.
At JCPenny.com, a Protocol five-piece luggage set, regularly $180, goes for $38.88.
•Handing out Thanksgiving freebies. Toys R Us gives away thousands of 64-pack Crayolas and coloring books with any purchase, while supplies last.
•Matching Turkey Day prices. On Thanksgiving, folks can bring in competitors' ads, and Walmart will match the price of any identical product. The offer does not apply to online items
WFMY News 2 / USA Today