Black Friday Midnight Madness: More Retailers Opening Early

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- More retailers are hoping consumers will start their holiday shopping in the wee hours this year with several stores announcing midnight openings on Black Friday.

"It's a very slow growth environment and the battle for the dollars is becoming increasingly fierce," said Sterne Agee analyst Ken Stumphauzer. "The consumer needs a reason to shop, having become increasingly episodic. I think the retailers feel like this is likely to heighten the need to shop and probably spread out some traffic so the more casual shopper will be more apt to step in the store."

Every year it seems the rush to capture shoppers dollars has become more intense, with some retailers like Toys 'R' Us, Sears ( SHLD) and Kmart, opting to open Thanksgiving Day on 2010.

The question is, do these early openings actually boost retail sales?

>>>10 Black Friday Deal Predictions

"The funny thing is, it probably doesn't actually really help," Srumphauzer said. "In my opinion, there are a number of shoppers who will shop on that day, and if anything, you are just stretching out the day and thereby heightening your store payroll. It's kind of like a prisoner's dilemma; everyone would benefit if they just ran normal hours, but they are too competitive to cooperate."

Nonetheless, retailers are copying Wal-Mart ( WMT), which was one of the only retailers to open at midnight on Black Friday last year.

Read on for a look at retailers that plan to perpetuate the Black Friday midnight madness this year.

Wal-Mart

Of course, Wal-Mart ( WMT) has to go and one-up everyone else. The discount giant will open for early bird shoppers at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, when it will offer deals on toys, home items and clothing.

Then at midnight, Wal-Mart will begin its electronics door busters, with more deals at 8 a.m. on Black Friday.

"Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early," Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S., said in a statement released Thursday.

Wal-Mart already held a pre-Black Friday sale on Nov. 5 and it revealed some Black Friday deals on Thursday, including selling the Xbox360 4GB with Kinect Console for $199.96 plus a $50 Walmart gift card.

Last year, Wal-Mart opened many of its U.S. stores on Thanksgiving Day and kept them open overnight.

Bon-Ton

Department store Bon-Ton ( BONT) will open on midnight on Black Friday for the first time ever.

On Nov. 25, the retailer will offer more than 500 door busters as well as other discounts from midnight until 1 p.m., or until supplies last. Stores will remain open until 10 p.m.

"We are very excited about giving our customers an early start on one of their favorite shopping days and believe they will appreciate the exceptional value of our door busters and special offers," CEO Bud Bergren said. "Our customers can maximize their holiday budget with our value-priced gifts, all offering the quality, fashion and styling shoppers have come to expect from Bon-Ton. The decision to open at midnight was based on our customers' feedback -- they wanted the convenience of shopping earlier. We believe this will enhance our customers' over-all shopping experience."

On Thanksgiving Day, Bon-Ton will also offer promotions online starting at 6 a.m.

Gap

Gap ( GPS) is going a step further than other retailers. The specialty retailer will be open on Thanksgiving Day, a new tradition it started last year.

"Our customers have given us terrific feedback about the option of getting a head start on their shopping on Thanksgiving Day," said Tom Wyatt, president of Old Navy. "It's a fun environment for the whole family, and a welcome excursion for those looking to get ahead or take a break from the holiday festivities. This is a win-win for our brand and our shoppers alike."

Nearly 1,000 Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores will remain open as families gather together to carve the turkey. Old Navy will keep 80% of its stores open, while 300 Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory, 116 namesake stores and 54 banana Republic locations will be ready for business.

Best Buy

Best Buy ( KSS) will open its doors at midnight for the first time on Nov. 25.

"At Best Buy, we`re focused on creating an unparalleled shopping experience for our customers," said Barry Judge, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "Black Friday is just the beginning. This commitment will come to life throughout the holiday season in a variety of offers and initiatives that give customers great values and the most convenient ways to shop for everyone on their list."

In more than 20 key markets, the retailer also will host a major cinematic event at its stores at 9 p.m. local time, details of which will be announced in coming days.

Best Buy Mobile stores also will be open earlier the day after Thanksgiving.

Aside from an early opening on Black Friday, Best Buy is also offering free shipping on orders now until Dec. 27. And like Wal-Mart and Target, the electronics retailer will match prices on any identical item from competitors between Nov. 13 through Dec. 24.

Kohl's

Kohl's ( KSS) is opening its doors at midnight on Black Friday.

"The state of the economy will definitely affect how consumers plan and shop this holiday," said CEO Kevin Mansell. "We understand they feel pressure to find the best gifts at an incredible value, and that's what we will deliver. From opening our stores at 12 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving -- our earliest opening ever -- to offering deeper savings opportunities throughout the holidays, we are making shopping easy and even more convenient this holiday season."

The mid-priced department store plans to remain open for 24 hours the day after Thanksgiving.

Online shoppers can also start making purchases with early bird specials on Thanksgiving Day.

Macy's

Macy's ( M) will open four hours earlier on Black Friday.

The department store said 810 of its locations will open at midnight the day after Thanksgiving. Twenty stores won't take part in the early opening in places where state or local laws prevent the midnight frenzy.

"This year, in response to our customers' eagerness to shop early for great deals, Macy's stores across the country will open for the first time at midnight following Thanksgiving, giving customers the opportunity to get a head start on our extraordinary Black Friday deals," CEO Terry Lundgren said in a statement.

Macy's also provided a sneak peek into some of its Black Friday deals, including 50% off Sharper Image docking stations for Apple's iPhone and iPod and an exclusive Justin Bieber limited edition fragrance scent.

Target

Target ( TGT) will open its doors for the first time at midnight on Black Friday. This is four hours earlier than last year.

The discounter will remain open until 11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25.

"The holidays bring hectic schedules and tight budgets, so extending store hours and offering lots of additional ways to save makes Target a great choice for affordable, one-stop holiday shopping," Tina Schiel, executive vice president, said in a statement.

Target will also extend its hours on other key shopping days, open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. the day after Christmas.

In an effort to compete with Wal-Mart, Target will also offer price-matching throughout the holiday season. This means shoppers can get a refund on the difference in price of a product if they find the same items advertised for a cheaper price.

- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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