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Mellody is President of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts.

Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.

 TOM: Good morning Mellody.

 MELLODY:  Good morning, Tom!

Tom: What do you have for us today, Mellody?

MELLODY: Well, Tom, we are talking about the crazy shopping weekend coming up in a few weeks. As you know, Black Friday is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, but this year different stores are taking different approaches. Some are opening on Thanksgiving – what people are now calling Gray Thursday – while others are sticking to their guns. This morning, I wanted to help make some sense of these moves for you.

TOM: Great! Why did stores start opening on Thanksgiving in the first place, Mellody?

 MELLODY: The trend of stores opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday, and now earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving, is really driven by a desire to get a step ahead of competitors and fight for every single dollar that Americans are spending during the big retail sales season. Kmart has been doing this for 20 years in order to get a head start on the holiday shopping season. After all, Thanksgiving weekend accounts for 10% of the total holiday spending that consumers do between November 1st and Christmas. Last year Americans spent over $57 billion in those 4 days alone, so this is a very important weekend.  On top of this, retailers have been squeezed by a number of factors in recent years. The great recession was 6 years ago, consumer confidence has been slow to recover, and online competition has led to lower mall traffic. Put together, it’s easy to understand why brick and mortar stores are in a bunker mentality when it comes to Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

TOM: Have these stores been raking it in by staying open?

Money Mondays: Making Sense of Gray Thursday and Black Friday  was originally published on

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