Target ups stake for holiday season's kickoff

Shoppers race around a Target store as they start the traditional holiday shopping frenzy on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. Darren Hauck/Getty Images

NEW YORK Target (TGT) will open its doors at 9:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than a year ago, to kick off the holiday shopping season.

The discounter joins several other major retailers, including Walmart, that are opening earlier in the evening on the holiday and staggering deals over the two-day period. Over the years, stores have been expanding their hours on Black Friday to get ahead of the competition, but the kickoff is increasingly happening right after shoppers finish their turkey feast.

"We thought long and hard about when the right opening time would be," said Kathee Tesija, Target's executive vice president of merchandising. She said that 9:00 p.m. struck "a perfect balance" for its customers.

Target, based in Minneapolis, plans to offer deals that include an Apex 32-inch LCD TV for $147 and a Nikon digital camera for $99.99 for the earlier opening. From 4:00 a.m. to noon, the next day, customers who spend $50 or more on clothing, accessories or home products will earn a $10 Target gift card to use toward a future purchase. Target is also preparing additional early morning specials, including Leapfrog Explorer software for $15.

Walmart (WMT) said last week it will begin its holiday sale at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year. It then will have two more rounds of sales events including a 10:00 p.m. sale on electronics and another sale at 5:00 a.m. the next day.

Sears (SHLD) said its stores will open at 8:00 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and will stay open overnight until 10 p.m. Friday. Last year Sears stores were closed on Thanksgiving. The company's Kmart stores have been open on Thanksgiving for years.

Lord & Taylor, which was closed on Thanksgiving last year, will be open on the holiday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Kohl's (KSS) and Macy's (M) will again throw open their doors at midnight, following Thanksgiving. J.C. Penney (JCP) plans to announce its Black Friday promotions on Monday.

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