A truncated holiday-shopping season is prompting more stores to open on Thanksgiving Day, sparking public outcry. A "Say No to Shopping on Thanksgiving" page on Facebook has accumulated more than 50,000 likes, and Change.org currently has 60 "Save Thanksgiving" petitions active on its site, which together have netted more than 200,000 signatures. Companies being asked to reconsider their open-door policies include Target, Best Buy, and Walmart.
Despite the outrage, surveys show that many consumers are planning to enter the Thanksgiving Day shopping fray. A poll taken early this month by the International Council of Shopping Centers showed that 13% said they would venture out on Thanksgiving, with 46% saying they would wait until Black Friday. A more recent survey by the National Retail Federation noted that almost 25% of respondents indicated that they would shop on Turkey Day.
Who will be the biggest winners?
Whether retailers reap financial rewards or public condemnation following this experiment remains to be seen. Regardless of the post-Thanksgiving Day shopping fallout, credit-card companies promise to be the real winners, particularly if recent research by Visa (NYSE:V) is any indication.
In some good news for competitors MasterCard (NYSE:MA) and American Express (NYSE:AXP) as well, the Visa study notes that e-commerce has increased by 17% in 2013 compared to last year, and 87% of consumers plan to do part of their holiday shopping online. In general, respondents said that they plan to use plastic for holiday purchases, with 56% saying they plan to pay with credit cards, and 30% indicating that the debit card is their preferred payment method.
Another plus for credit card companies is the news that gift cards are at the top of shoppers' buying lists for this holiday season. A study by Accenture shows 56% of those polled said they plan to buy gift cards this year, while the NRF puts its estimate much higher, saying that at least 80% of shoppers plan to do so. While many of these cards will likely be brand-specific, more shoppers are turning back to general-use cards issued by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express now that new regulations make hidden maintenance fees less of a problem.
A recent poll by the Georgetown Institute for Consumer Research shows that shoppers are planning to spend up a storm over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and expect to spend more than half of their gift-buying budgets during that time frame. For the big three credit-card purveyors, the abbreviated holiday-shopping season is shaping up to be a merry one.
Fool contributor Amanda Alix has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. The Motley Fool owns shares of MasterCard and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.