For the third year in a row, Macy's will open its doors to the onslaught of shoppers the evening of Thanksgiving, setting Black Friday in motion before it's even Friday.
Before 2013, Macy's had a tradition of opening at midnight on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that also signals the start of the holiday shopping season, but it yielded after major competitors like Toys R Us and Target pushed up their opening times by a few hours. And it keeps getting earlier -- on Nov. 26 this year, Macy's will open at 6 p.m., compared to 8 p.m. in 2013.
In a statement, Macy's emphasized that it began its Thanksgiving planning early so employees could choose how best to schedule all their holiday shifts. "The vast majority of our Thanksgiving shifts are filled by sales associates who volunteer to work those hours, and they receive additional pay when they do so," the statement added.
The move is another sign of the so-called "Black Friday creep," in which stores extend their hours for longer and longer to kick off the shopping season, increasing the burden on their workers. Retailers reap huge revenue from the holiday weekend, with sales last year totaling nearly $51 billion.
Employees and labor advocacy groups have heavily criticized retailers' caving in to the cash potential of selling more merchandise over longer hours, while taking workers away from time with their family.
Walmart, the world's largest retailer and which has been open on Thanksgiving for nearly 30 years, saw employees protest at stores across the country last year, demanding that they be paid a living wage.
Earlier this week, outdoor retailer REI announced that it would close its stores on Black Friday, encouraging employees to "head outside" instead. CEO Jerry Stritzke said the new policy was "a bit of a startling idea."
"I think it's intriguing that we can create this conversation [about] something so central to our brand and kind of who we are," Stritzke told HuffPost Live.