NEW YORK — Many retailers stayed opened Thursday during the Thanksgiving celebrations, evidence that even this cherished American family holiday is falling prey to the forces of commerce.
Ten years ago, it would have been impossible to find a single store open on New York’s big shopping arteries such as Broadway.
But on Thursday, where Broadway traverses Soho nearly all the stores were open as they have been for the past few years.
“We’ve done our planning so that people will work either on Thursday or on Friday,” said Hazel Newman, a saleswoman at a Levis store.
“It’s mostly tourists today,” she added.
Most Americans still tend to celebrate the holiday at home with their families, waiting until the day after, so-called “Black Friday,” to storm the stores in search of Christmas bargains.
Emily Baez, 15, was out shopping on Thursday however, making a last minute dash to the stores with her mother to find an outfit for the family dinner that evening.
Another young woman, who wouldn’t give her name, says she generally doesn’t have time to shop so she’s happy to have a chance to do so during the holiday.
Discount chains Target and Wal-Mart planned to open at 8:00 pm after the dinner hour to get an early start on “Black Friday,” one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
So crucial is “Black Friday” to retailers that often it is what tips them out of the red and into the black for the year.
But the day’s impact on balance sheets is starting to wane as more and more stores try to reel in customers on Thursday, even if it means that their employees have to forego the traditional Thanksgiving feast.
“We’ll stay open until 5:00 p.m. and we’ll reopen at 9:00 p.m.,” said Don, a manager at an Old Navy store, who assures that only employees who want to are expected to work on Thanksgiving.
Employees of chain stores, however, have circulated several petitions online pleading with the public to “save Thanksgiving.”
There may still be some hope. Bucking the trend toward earlier openings, stores on less busy streets than Broadway remained closed.
Observing that, a salesman at one of them, French Connection, said, “So we actually could decide to close again next year.”