By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Macy's Inc said on Mondaythat most of its stores will open on the U.S. Thanksgiving Dayholiday for the first time in its history, in a sign of howcompetitive the holiday season is shaping up.
Macy's will open the doors at most of its 800 namesakedepartment stores, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28. The companysaid the shift was voluntary for workers and that the move was"consistent" with what many rivals are doing.
The name of company, which has sponsored New York's Macy'sThanksgiving Day parade since 1924, is virtually synonymous withthe holiday.
Traditionally, retailers have waited until Black Friday, theday after the Thanksgiving, to start their big end-of-the-yearpush for sales.
U.S. retailers have extended their Black Friday hours everyyear in recent years to get a jump on the sales events that kickoff the holiday season, when they earn more than a third oftheir annual sales in the holiday season.
Many retailers, including Macy's, reported disappointingsecond-quarter sales, pressuring them to try to make up thosesales during the holiday season.
Macy's opened most of its stores at midnight in 2011 and2012 to kick off the Black Friday sales after opening later inthe morning in prior years. But some of its rivals have openedearlier and earlier, pressuring Macy's.
Last year, Macy's rival Lord & Taylor, owned by Hudson's BayCo, opened some stores for business on Thanksgiving forthe first time. Sears Holdings Corp's namesake chainwas also open.
In 2012, Target Corp opened at 9 p.m. onThanksgiving, three hours earlier than a year earlier, when itwas closed on Thanksgiving.
Macy's said in a statement that the earlier opening was to cater to shoppers who prefer to start shopping earlier.
One associate in the men's sportswear section at the Macy'sflagship in Manhattan said he volunteered to work onThanksgiving.
"I'm going to gladly work that shift because I don't want towork on Black Friday," he said.
But another associate said Thanksgiving with her family wastoo "sacred" for her to go to work.
Last year, several petitions were created on websiteChange.org suggesting that chains keep their doors shut onThanksgiving, which is a major national, non-denominationalholiday in the United States. Change.org is a website thatallows people to create and sign petitions.
Rowland H. Macy opened R.H. Macy & Co as a dry goods storein New York City in 1858.
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