Opening up shop on Thanksgiving has become a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation for retailers.

If a chain opens, it faces push-back from worker advocates, which fault if for forcing employees to come to work on a day typically spent with family. If a company chooses to stay closed, it gives up a potentially huge day of sales.

Not opening brings a positive public relations spin, but in most cases, it's hard to see how that translates to better sales throughout the rest of the season. It's a tough decision for retailers -- or at least they have to pretend it is -- but most of the biggest players will open their doors at some point on the actual Thanksgiving holiday.

Here's a look at which chains have opted to open their doors this Thanksgiving and the ones that have not confirmed their plans, but have always opened in the past.

Wal-Mart will be one of the stores opening on Thanksgiving. Image source: Wal-Mart.


The resurgent retailer will try to build on its recent momentum by opening its doors at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. J.C. Penney (JCPN.Q) will also begin its online Black Friday sales at a day earlier at midnight on Nov. 23. In addition the retailer will be handing out coupons on Thanksgiving Day to some of the first customers through its doors which could be worth up to $500 (if you spend $500) with others being worth from $10-$100.


This holiday season might be a last stand for Sears (SHLDQ) and K-Mart and the two chains intend to put up a fight. Both will open their doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, with an array of items on sale, and a number of special promotions including enhanced discounts for people using Sears credit cards.

Wal-Mart, Target

The two giants of physical retailers won't be letting an opportunity to reach shoppers pass by and both will open on Thanksgiving. Wal-Mart (WMT 1.00%) will make its Black Friday deals available on its website one minute after midnight on Thanksgiving morning. Stores will open at 6 p.m. later that day.

Target (TGT -0.32%) will also kick off its Black Friday deals early Thanksgiving morning on its website with stores opening at 6 p.m. The retailer has also been offering free shipping through its website since late October and it, like Wal-Mart has already launched some holiday deals.

Best Buy

Best Buy (BBY -0.39%) has been a true retail turnaround success story, The company was in serious trouble a few years ago, but it has come raring back. Now, the chain is trying to continue its comeback tale by gearing up for another holiday season starting on Thanksgiving Day at 5 p.m. The chain has already made its Black Friday deals (at least some of them) available on its website.

The best of the rest...

Kohl's will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day while Toys R Us will open its doors at 5 p.m., keeping them open for 30-straight hours. Macy's, another retailer struggling for survival, will also be opening at 5 p.m. (an hour earlier than it opened in 2015).  

A number of stores including Barnes & Noble, GameStop, Staples, Office Depot, Marshalls, HH Gregg, Petco, PetSmart, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Dillard's won't open until early on Black Friday. One retailer, REI, won't be open on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. That chain has urged its customers and its staff to spend the day outside or otherwise involved in physical activity.