Some Retailers Rejecting 'Gray Thursday' as Part of Holiday Shopping Ritual

PHOTO: Patagonia, which tells the story of Kristin Gates, a long-distance hiker who chooses to patch up her winter jacket, is among several brands declining to participate in the "Gray Thursday" and Black Friday frenzy.
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With more retailers electing to open its doors on Thanksgiving Day 2013 to present early Black Friday deals, the moniker "gray Thursday" is starting to take its place among the shopper's lexicon.

To get an early start on Black Friday deals, Best Buy and Walmart are opening their doors at 6 p.m. on Thursday, while Macy's, Target, JCPenney, Kohl's and Sears will welcome shoppers to its brick and mortar stores at 8 p.m.

Earliest of all, Kmart, which is owned by Sears Holdings, made it onto Consumer Reports' list of 10 companies on its "naughty" list for boasting about opening at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning and staying open for 41 hours straight.

Read More: 9 Companies That Made Consumer Reports' 2013 Naughty List

In its defense, Kmart said it has been open on Thanksgiving Day for 22 years and that it extended hours based on feedback from its Shop Your Way members.

"We understand many associates want to spend time with their families during the holiday," the company said. "With this in mind Kmart stores do their very best to staff with seasonal associates and those who are needed to work holidays. All associates who work on Thanksgiving are compensated with holiday pay."

But despite the frenzied competition, many national chains are choosing to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day despite retailers' claims that shoppers tell them they prefer to have more hours to shop.

Nordstrom wrote on its Facebook page, "We won't be decking our halls" until Black Friday because "we like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time." Appliance store P.C. Richard & Son published ads in some newspapers with the words, "Save Thanksgiving."

Trader Joe's, Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx, BJ's Wholesale Club, Costco, Home Depot, Dillards, and Marshall's are among the other companies that chose to stay closed this "Gray Thursday."

Read More: Staples, Medieval Times Workers Say Opening Thanksgiving Day Crosses the Line

Among the other terms that describe this busy consumer week are Small Business Saturday, launched by American Express in 2010, Cyber Monday for online deals and Giving Tuesday, endorsed by nonprofits to encourage households to give time or money to charity.

Giving Tuesday is not an antidote to the busy holiday shopping days, but complements them, said a spokeswoman for the movement.

The movement began last year and is headed by the United Nations Foundation. Last year, more than 2,500 partners were involved in fundraising and volunteer initiatives. This year, there are about 7,200 organizations involved in Giving Tuesday.

This year, Causes.com, which calls itself the world's largest campaigning platform, is marketing campaigns from #GivingTuesday partners on its website.

"Causes.com is about getting involved and making an impact for the greater good," said Matt Mahan, CEO of Causes.com. "I personally believe that the holidays should be more than shopping and mass consumerism."

However, the nonprofits and businesses involved position themselves as being for giving, not anti-consuming, saying the idea of "rejecting" Black Friday is a difficult pill to swallow.

Enter Patagonia, the privately held clothing company. It is not only choosing to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, but encouraging shoppers not to buy things they don't need this holiday season.

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Patagonia, based in Ventura, Calif., has become known for its counter-cultural marketing. In November 2011, the company published a Black Friday advertisement that stated, "Don't Buy This Jacket." The ad, the theme of which is reiterated in company billboards and customer emails, criticized the amount of natural resources used to make one product.

While Patagonia isn't hosting door-buster sales, it is unveiling a new repair program with iFixit, which hosts online free repair guides.

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