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Kmart to open for holiday shopping Thanksgiving morning

Pity the Kmart worker who likes Thanksgiving turkey.

The big-box retailer that’s joined at the hip with Sears announced plans for new holiday hours this upcoming shopping season to actually open up an hour before sunrise on Thanksgiving morning in most cities, and stay open 24-hours a day until late at night on Black Friday.

Both Kmart and Sears are owned by an investment fund that’s been working to upgrade their operations to better compete with healthier rivals such as Macy’s, Walmart and Kohl’s. The move comes as such brick-and-mortar retailers throw every tool in they have at online rivals to get their share of the holiday spending pie.

Leena Munjal, senior vice president customer experience and integrated retail, Sears Holdings wrote in a prepared statement: “Sears and Kmart have been leaders in integrated retail, delivering convenient options to create a more rewarding shopping experience for our members, while blurring the boundaries between offline and online shopping.”

Speaking of the move to open early Thanksgiving, she wrote that customers will “have the option to shop anytime, anywhere and anyway they want – especially during the busiest shopping weekend of the year.”

This year, official store hours are as follows:

Sears: Opening 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving) through 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 (Black Friday.)

Kmart: Opening 6 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28 (Thanksgiving), and not closing until 11 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29 (Black Friday.)

Retail has never been an especially kind industry for hourly workers and their personal schedules. Last year, moves to open on Thanksgiving evening actually triggered uprisings among retail employees who felt the stores robbed them of their chance to spend any time with their families around Thanksgiving Day. Some started petition campaigns, but retailers didn’t relent.

This year, that trend of pushing opening hours ever earlier is continuing, and Thanksgiving night is becoming the standard time for big-box stores to open. Macy’s will now open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night in most stores nationwide, and will stay open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday. JCPenney will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving — 10 hours earlier than last year — and remain open until 9 p.m. Black Friday.

In response to an inquiry, JCPenney officials said their higher level executives will “get the opportunity to volunteer” in a JCPenney store of their choice for both Thanksgiving and Black Friday. “We’re ALL going to win holiday together, side-by-side,” the company said in a statement. “The energy of our ‘all in’ attitude and events will translate into excellent customer service and outstanding morale.”

Meanwhile, some stores won’t close at all. Walmart normally stays open 24 hours a day in most stores, 364 days a year, only closing on Christmas Day. To add some Black Friday drama to entice customers, the mega-retailer will offer specific items on sale at specific times.

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