The push to move Black Friday into Thanksgiving Day is prompting South Florida shoppers with a taste for bargains to alter their Thanksgiving plans.
Some are making meals early, turning Thanksgiving into lunch, while others are ordering prepared meals.
Rori Greenspan, 36, of Boynton Beach, isn't thrilled about having to choose between the dining and shopping traditions.
"It's girl's night out for us, and I really look forward to it," she said. "Last year, we went out at 7:30 for 10 p.m. openings. This year, I have to be on line by 6 at Toys R Us for the 8 p.m. sale."
Her solution: Wake up early Thursday to get a 28-pound bird in the oven by 6 a.m. to feed 26 people by 3 p.m. so she and her friends can be among the first 200 in line at Toys R Us to score a free $30 gift bag.
"This is a getting a little crazy," Greenspan said. "Next year, we're just going to have to do Thanksgiving on Wednesday."
This year, Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart are offering doorbuster deals at 8 p.m. All Target stores will open at 9 p.m. In Sunrise, BrandsMart and Sawgrass Mills are opening at 9 p.m. Best Buy, Macy's, and Kohl's are sticking with midnight openings. JC Penney is the only "late" opener at 6 a.m. Friday.
Christine Neely, of Boca Raton, and her family also plan to eating earlier this year, too. "We are changing the normal holiday schedule around because the deals start so early," she said.
In the last few years, retailers have been opening earlier and earlier — ranging from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday — offering deals to lure shoppers. But last year Walmart and BrandsMart USA broke the midnight barrier, opening at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Target, Macy's, Best Buy and Kohl's moved their 5 a.m. openings to midnight.
The sluggish economy is leading retailers to one-up each other, said Bobby Johnson, COO of BrandsMart USA, which has six South Florida stores.
"Fear is driving this trend," he said, "It's such a big buying day. It kicks off the season."
So what can you do if you want to enjoy the holiday meal and go bargain-shopping, too?
Lenore Nolan-Ryan, a top South Florida caterer and chef, suggests doing as much as possible early in the week including roasting the turkey on Wednesday or even Tuesday.
"Set the table and make the side dishes the day before and reheat them," she said. "Everything tastes better when the flavors have time to marry anyway."
Others are pre-ordering feasts from Publix or neighborhood spots like Doris' Italian Market & Bakery in Sunrise. Both report brisk business.
"In the last couple of days it's been nonstop," said Kopel Smilovics, deli manager at the Sunrise store.
Still, some South Floridians feel the dine-and-dash retail trend has altered the spirit of the holiday and are sticking to their traditions.
"Thanksgiving should be about family, not shopping. It's soured me to the whole idea of Black Friday," said Ivy Lynn Defino, 50, of Davie.
"I'm not going out until Saturday. Thanksgiving should be about family. We always eat at 6 p.m. At 8 p.m. we're sitting around having pie, not shopping."
Arlene Satchell contributed to this report.
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