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Retailers sweeten the pot for Thanksgiving workers

A Best Buy employee in New York restocks items on Black Friday last year.
Getty Images
A Best Buy employee in New York restocks items on Black Friday last year.

Retailers are hoping to entice their workers this Thanksgiving by offering a bigger paycheck, a store discount and a side of turkey.

As a growing number of retailers announce plans to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, criticism has similarly mounted among protesters and consumers, who are outraged that employees will now spend the holiday at work.

In response, a list of retailers has been quick to offer their associates pay benefits and other perks for giving up part of their day to work, which in many cases has resulted in workers volunteering for the shifts.

At Macy's, employees have been responding positively to the retailer's decision to open for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, said Jim Sluzewski, senior vice president of corporate communications and external affairs.

(Read more: Wal-Mart joins the Thanksgiving rush)

Workers will be paid overtime for the entirety of any shift that begins on Thursday, which has resulted in more than 90 percent of the day's shifts being filled with regular staff.

"Virtually all our shifts and slots for that opening are being filled by volunteers," he said.

The retailer will tap into its network of 83,000 seasonal workers to fill the remaining time slots.

Wal-Mart, which announced Tuesday that it will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, will once again compensate its more than 1 million Thanksgiving Day workers with holiday pay. This means that on top of their regular pay, the retailer will average an employee's hours from the previous two weeks, and give them an additional paycheck for those hours.

The discounter is also boosting last year's 20-percent employee discount to a 25-percent discount on an entire purchase, and will provide a traditional Thanksgiving meal during each of its three shifts.

(Read more: Target joins list of retailers opening on Thanksgiving)

Best Buy and Sears Holding's Kmart, which has been open on Thanksgiving Day for 22 years, will similarly offer their regular and seasonal associates holiday pay. Toys R Us employees, including 45,000 seasonal workers, will be paid time and a half, receive team meals throughout the day and be allowed to wear jeans and sneakers. Target employees will also receive time and a half, and those who work certain hours will receive an additional shift's pay.

Over the years, these pay perks have motivated some employees to work on the holidays.

Rebecca Viets, a former convenience store worker, responded to a Facebook forum titled "Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day." She wrote that she worked every holiday to receive more pay.

"I just want people to know that boycotting an employer on my behalf (an employee who wants to work the holidays to have a little extra money) is NOT going to help me or other employees out. They will actually be taking away from us," she wrote in a private message. "The holiday pay we receive is always desperately needed and put to good use."

Despite the backlash—including threats of protest and shoppers posting pledges on Facebook that they will not shop on Thanksgiving—a new Accenture survey showed that the Thanksgiving creep is becoming increasingly important for retailers to remain competitive.

(Read more: Black Friday creep hits another retailer)

According to the survey, people plan to show up in droves to take advantage of the day's promotions, with 38 percent of shoppers responding that they are likely to shop on Thanksgiving Day, and 55 percent saying they are likely to shop on Black Friday—the highest level in five years.

Last year, the National Retail Federation estimated the value of Black Friday weekend reached $59.1 billion.

"We know there are going to be a lot of customers," Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg said.

—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson.

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