Retailers push back against early start to Black Friday shopping


The beginning of the busiest shopping weekend in the US got off to a slower start Friday as several companies pushed back against the recent trend of opening stores on Thursday, the US holiday of Thanksgiving.

After large retailers caused outrage in recent years by kicking off the annual shopping frenzy Thursday evening, which many saw as an infringement on the holiday and its staple turkey dinner, several stores opted this year to remain closed through Thanksgiving and open on Friday only.

The fashion retailers H&M and Nordstrom, along with the home improvement store Home Depot and bookstore Barnes and Noble, remained closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The outdoor equipment retailer REI went one step further and said it would keep its stores closed on both Thursday and Friday, giving its 12,000 employees paid vacation days off and encouraging them to spend time in nature. The company invited other companies to follow its lead.

“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” said chief executive Jerry Stritzke.

Walmart, which was among first retailer to open its stores on Thanksgiving Day, continued with the trend of offering deals starting at 6 pm local time on Thursday (2300 GMT).

An estimated 135.8 million people in the US said they were planning to shop between Thursday and Sunday in stores or online, the National Retail Federation said in its annual preliminary survey of the shopping weekend.

In 2014, almost 134 million shoppers took advantage of deals during Thanksgiving weekend spending 50.9 billion dollars.