Black Friday 2011: stores open earlier than ever

Black Friday 2011 starts earlier than ever this year for many American retailers. Stores like Target are planning to open their doors to customers at midnight, while Toys “R” Us will start offering up sales starting at 9 PM Thanksgiving night.

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Shoppers have worked themselves up into a frenzy. Many will brave crowded aisles and long lines in hopes of snagging gifts for loved ones (and sometimes themselves) at deeply discounted prices. Some are even going so far as researching store floor plans in order to map out the quickest routes to their most desired items.

While many shoppers are excited about getting a head start on their holiday shopping, employees who have to work the shifts aren’t so thrilled. Target employees in particular are protesting their earlier work schedules. They say instead of enjoying Thanksgiving Day with their families, they’ll be sleeping in preparation for their shifts. A petition delivered to Target’s head office in Minneapolis included 190,000 signatures in support of workers’ rights.

Black Friday has become an American holiday in its own right, in which retailers open early on the morning after Thanksgiving touting “door buster” sales. It’s a way for brick and mortar stores to compete with the discounts often offered by online outlets like Amazon.com. Competition in the holiday marketplace is fierce, placing pressure on retailers to open earlier and earlier in an attempt to get the first crack at customers.

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