Each year, stores seem to open their doors earlier and earlier for Black Friday – the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season. And this year, customers will have the chance to start that shopping before the pumpkin pie is even out of the oven.
Walmart, Sears and Toys-R-Us are among the stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day -- some as early as 8 p.m.
"I was just really surprised, because we always head out early in the morning, in the middle of the night, to line up for the different stores and their ads,” said Lynne Kuehl, who’s been braving Black Friday crowds for more than a decade.
Kuehl, though, wouldn’t mind trading Thanksgiving evening for a few extra hours in bed on Friday morning.
“If my daughter's ready to go and head out earlier, then we may go earlier," she said.
After opening at 9 p.m. last year, a Toys-R-Us spokesperson said the response was overwhelmingly positive. Customers said they liked not having to spend all night in line outside, and they could sleep in on Friday. That’s why Toys-R-Us said its pushing this year’s opening time up one hour.
But as Black Friday creeps earlier and earlier, some Quad City shoppers are pushing back.
"I don't think it's a good idea for the people that have to work there,” said Kay Solbrig.
"I think they need to keep the holiday separate and just keep opening on Friday, as it normally used to be,” added Christina North.
Beth Rupe is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Moline. She sees the conflict between Black Friday and traditional Thanksgiving ideals.
"It's a time to pause, it’s a time to give thanks, it’s a time to recognize that even in the midst of crises like the first Thanksgiving or the Civil War, that there's plenty of blessings if we pay attention to them," said Rupe.
Others feel there is a communal aspect to the holiday as well.
"It's important for people, especially employees, to be with their families, and it gets away from family traditions,” said North.
"It's kind of pushing back the sentiments and the strategies of Black Friday, which is about the bottom line,” explained Rupe.
That bottom line, though, was $ 11.4 billion in retail purchases on Black Friday alone in 2011, according to ShopperTrak.
"I guess they're just trying to jump the gun and get there a little earlier than the other ones,” said Kuehl.
And in a sluggish economy, it’s no wonder retailers want to grab a piece of that holiday pie.