Black Friday used to really kick off the holiday shopping season. In recent years, though, that high-intensity sales period has spread, with some retailers offering deals from the beginning of November on.

Perhaps more importantly for people seeking big bargains, many chains now kick off their biggest sales on Thanksgiving Day itself. That has taken some of the shine off Black Friday, while also creating a conundrum for shoppers. Should you leave the holiday meal and gathering of family and friends to hit the stores?

If you choose to, you may be rewarded with some good discounts (and at least you'll get some shopping out of the way). Thanksgiving and Black Friday may not be the best days to buy everything on your list, but most stores will be offering some pretty major deals.

These are the major retailers open on Thanksgiving. However, remember that some states ban large retailers from doing business  on the holiday, and there will be some shopping plazas where open hours will vary. It always makes sense to check for any changes or exceptions where you live before heading out to shop.

Retailer Thanksgiving Hours
Bass Pro Shops 8 a.m. to 6 p.m
Best Buy 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Big Lots  7 a.m. to midnight
Cabela's  8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dick's Sporting Goods  6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Dollar General 7 a.m. to 10 p.m
Five Below 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Fred's Pharmacy  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
J.C. Penney  Opens 2 p.m. (will not close)
Kohl's Opens 5 p.m. (will not close)
Kmart  Opens 6 a.m., closing at midnight or 2 a.m., depending upon location
Macy's 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Michaels  6 p.m. to 12 a.m. (opens at 5 p.m. for Rewards club members)
Sears  6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Target  6 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Toys R Us Opens 5 p.m. (will not close)
ULTA  6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Wal-Mart Opens 6 p.m. (will not close)

Data source: BestBlackFriday.com.

A maple leaf is in a tiny shopping cart near a small present.

Not every store is open on Thanksgiving. Image source: Getty Images.

Holding the line on the holiday

Just because a lot of retailers have decided to open does not mean every chain has jumped on the bandwagon. Some, like REI, have made being closed for the holiday a specific theme of their marketing; others have decided that they are willing to forego the extra sales so their employees can have a day off.

This list doesn't include every retailer that's closed on Thanksgiving, but it does cover most of the major chains.

  • A.C. Moore
  • At Home
  • BJ's Wholesale Club
  • Burlington
  • Cabela's
  • Costco
  • Crate and Barrel
  • DSW-Designer Shoe Warehouse
  • Ethan Allen
  • Guitar Center
  • H&M
  • Harbor Freight
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Home Depot
  • HomeGoods
  • Homesense
  • IKEA
  • JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores
  • Jos. A. Bank
  • Lowe's
  • Marshalls
  • Neiman Marcus
  • Office Depot and OfficeMax
  • Party City
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1 Imports
  • Sam's Club
  • Staples
  • The Container Store
  • TJ Maxx

Be careful

Whenever you choose to hit the stores, remember to have a plan: Set a budget, stick to that budget, and only buy things you need or planned to buy.

Remember that if an item costs $100 and it's 50% off, buying it still counts as spending $50. Yes, you saved money off of the list price, but your bank balance still went down.

While many people -- parents especially -- feel pressure to break the bank in order to create a memorable holiday season, short-term pleasure is not worth long-term pain. Don't buy things you can't afford, even if that means having to disappoint people. It's always better the make the responsible decision that protects your long-term financial well-being than it is to get swept up on the moment.

Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of The Container Store Group and has the following options: short January 2018 $170 calls on Home Depot and long January 2020 $110 calls on Home Depot. The Motley Fool recommends Five Below, Home Depot, Lowe's, The Michaels Companies, The TJX Companies, and Ulta Beauty. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.