Some Americans choose shopping over turkey

Tue Nov 23, 2010 3:08pm EST
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By Edith Honan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jason Thomas plans to gather with his family on Thursday afternoon for a Thanksgiving feast, which means he will have a few hours in the morning to get a bargain on a leather jacket or a flat-screen television.

In a trend that alarms traditionalists, the sharp financial downturn since 2007 has prompted an increasing number of U.S. stores to open on Thanksgiving, which has been one of the least consumer-oriented of American holidays.

Thomas, 26, a New York City security guard. said he could go shopping in the morning before his family gathers. "You might want to have a nice outfit (to wear) for your family. And then you can tell them -- 'I got it for a steal!'"

But some critics say opening stores on one of the only days in the year they usually remained closed means less time relaxing, bonding with family members and passing traditions down to children.

"It's crass. There is a time and place for shopping," said Elena Brouwer, director of the International Etiquette Center in Florida. "People should have a conversation. That's what people should be doing on Thanksgiving."

The holiday celebrates the first successful harvest by European settlers in 1621, when they shared a feast Native American Indians.

For many Americans, the day spent in a orgy of eating turkey and pumpkin pie and watching a series of televised football games, has been the calm before the storm of "Black Friday", the official start of the holiday shopping season.

But Kathy Grannis, the spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation, said consumers appreciated the convenience of being able to shop on Thanksgiving while stores could maximize sales during the sluggish recovery.   Continued...

<p>Shoppers pass by the Toys R Us store at Times Square in New York November 22, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>