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November 18. 2012 9:07PM

For some NH stores and shoppers, Thanksgiving will be 'Black Thursday'

Black Friday bargain hunters beware - this year, some store shelves may be cleared before the Thanksgiving dinner table.

With some of the larger big-box retailers like Sears and Target opening at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving, the day of deep discounts at retail stores could become Black Thursday.

"It definitely appears to be the start of a new trend," said Amanda Holden, an office manager for the Retail Merchants Association of New Hampshire.

Target stores will open at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than the stores' midnight opening in 2011. Walmart is planning to begin its Black Friday sales at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving. Toys R Us is also planning an 8 p.m. opening, as is Sears.

Retail insiders say the move to open earlier is a way for retailers to try to offset another expected year of lower-than-expected holiday sales. Overall holiday sales, which account for 40 percent of retailers' annual revenue, are forecast to grow 4.1 percent this year, down from 5.6 percent in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation.

Walmart and Target are staggering Black Friday promotions, scheduling sales of popular products like iPads at specific times, hoping that shoppers will return several times through the day. Kmart and Sears have similar plans.

At Best Buy, doors open at midnight. Doorbusters include deals on TVs, phones and Samsung laptop bundles.

All Simon Malls in New Hampshire will be opening at 12 a.m. on Friday, a change from last year's 4 a.m. opening for most Simon Malls in the region. The malls will remain open until 10 p.m.

Simon operates The Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester, The Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua and the Fox Run Mall in Newington.

The malls are again hosting Rejuvenation Stations, giving shoppers a place to unwind in chairs and sofas, as well as gift wrap stations benefiting various local charities.

Many of the stores in the Merrimack Premium Outlets are opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, with others opening at 10 or 11 p.m.

The Tanger Outlets in Tilton will open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night, with 20 percent-off deals until 3 a.m., and 30 percent-off deals from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Some shoppers welcome the chance to work off some turkey-related calories while shopping Thursday night.

"I think it's a good idea," said Linda Dean of Litchfield, at The Mall of New Hampshire Sunday night. "I'm not sure I'll be here, but I might need to get out of the house by the time dinner's done."

"I feel bad for the employees," said Barbara Murdoch of Hudson. "The deals are probably great, but I wouldn't want to have to work."

New Hampshire Union Leader staff writer Doug Alden contributed to this report.

pfeely@unionleader.com



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