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Sears will open its stores on Thanksgiving Day

Shoppers wait for a Sears store to open ahead of Black Friday in Peoria, Ill., Nov. 28, 2013.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shoppers wait for a Sears store to open ahead of Black Friday in Peoria, Ill., Nov. 28, 2013.

Another major department store chain will kick off its Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving, further confirming this will not be the season that the retail industry moves away from holiday hours.

Sears on Tuesday said it would open most of its doors at 6 p.m. that Thursday, and keep them running until 12 a.m. Black Friday. The locations will then close for a few hours before reopening at 5 a.m.

The retailer's stores also opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving last year, but shoppers had until 2 a.m. on Black Friday to complete their overnight buying.

"We've opened our doors on Thanksgiving Day for the past four years based on feedback from Shop Your Way members, who seek more flexible holiday in-store shopping times and are eager to shop doorbuster deals," Joelle Maher, Sears' president and chief member officer, told CNBC in an emailed statement.

"We've closely monitored member response from prior years, considered shifts in member shopping behavior, the competitive landscape, and came up with the best plan to serve them and address the needs of the business."

Sears joins the likes of Macy's, Kohl's and Toys R Us, which have all said they will once again open on the holiday. That's despite several industry players deciding they would change their approach this season, with the Mall of America and CBL & Associates opting to close properties.

Individual retailers like Hhgregg also changed their tune, while several stores that are typically closed on Thanksgiving Day are sticking to that approach.

While some argue that Thanksgiving openings simply spread out sales, others contend that value-based retailers — who face stiff competition from others running steep Black Friday promotions — may not have a choice. For instance, if Macy's were closed, shoppers could simply walk across the mall and spend their money at J.C. Penney instead.

Data from NPD Group's Checkout Tracking, which scans customer receipts, found the share of Black Friday shoppers who started on Thanksgiving fell 3 points last year, to 57 percent. Yet the number of people who shopped only that day edged slightly higher, to 18 percent. That means stores that weren't open on Thanksgiving may have lost sales to a competitor.

A separate analysis by consulting firm AlixPartners found retailers that generated more total sales by opening on Thanksgiving earned a 16 percent profit margin for the weekend, compared with 3 percent for those who simply spread out their sales.

Electronics stores and mass merchants typically grab incremental sales by opening on Thanksgiving, whereas specialty shops with unique items and off-price retailers tend to pull their sales forward, the firm said.

In the last holiday quarter, Sears' revenue decreased $796 million to $7.3 billion.