Thanksgiving turns into “Gray Thursday” for holiday shoppers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Before the turkey even hits the table on Thanksgiving, shoppers will be getting ready to hit the stores, and the deals are coming earlier than ever this year.

For years “Black Friday”, the day after Thanksgiving, has been the big shopping day of the holiday season, and one of the most shopped days of the year.

Now there are three heavy shopping days, starting with Thanksgiving, now known as “Gray Thursday”, “Black Friday”, and Cyber Monday, the first day after the weekend, when retailers offer big discounts on the Internet.

That is because holiday shoppers, like Michelle Gesel of Akron, are finding themselves spending more time surfing the web, “sales, they have a lot of good deals, free shipping, and I am all about that.”

While many of the traditional “brick and mortar” retailers are offering deals online, their survival in the depends on walk in customers, so they are looking to boost foot traffic that you can only cash in by coming through the door.

They are called “door busters”, and some merchants at the Eastern Hills Mall are using that strategy.

“And only can receive those sales, not online but only in-store. There are a couple of really fun ones. Some that are pretty standard that they have every year, but a lot of our stores are doing door buster sales,” said Meghan Hinton, marketing coordinator for Eastern Hills.

Julie Hartley and some of her family, are spreading their bargain hunting out over the entire weekend, from Thursday to Monday, even though they will be wearing “I Love Black Friday” t-shirts while they are searching for deals.

“Because it originally started as Black Friday, but now we are officially Gray Thursday into Black Friday, into Sunday morning, and then follow up by Cyber Monday,” said Sonia Croxie, Julie’s daughter.

While family will be out shopping on Thanksgiving Day, the family meal still comes first, “It’s tradtion, it’s love, we’re together,” said Hartley. “So it’s not that we are eating and leaving the family–the family is with us. We are all family, we are shopping together, we have eaten already, and then we come out and shop.”

Local merchants are stepping up their game, though, because Canadian retailers are doing more to keep Canadian dollars on their side of the border. Canadian stores have been holding Black Friday sales since 2008, and the Outlet Collection at Niagara, an outlet mall at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario opened its doors back in May.

“The value of their dollar goes a lot farther when they come down here. The difference between New York state taxes versus Ontario provincial taxes tends to favor us, still, just a little bit more. So we hope that is enough of an enticement,” said Michael Powers, marketing manager for the Fashion Outlets, in the Town of Niagara.

This could prove to be a huge weekend for Canadian shoppers crossing the border: The Sabres are playing two home games–against Winnipeg and Montreal–and the Bills are at home against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday.

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