In recent years a growing number of stores in New Jersey have started opening their doors on Thanksgiving night to give shoppers a running start to the holiday shopping season.

(Carsten Koall, Getty Images)

This year some chains, including Nordstorms, TJ Maxx and Marshalls have announced they will not be open on Thanksgiving, suggesting the holiday is better spent with family and friends.

According to Carol Kaufman-Scarborough, a Rutgers University professor of Marketing, this kind of position by stores can actually be a way to create a positive impression, and attract more customers down the line.

“People don’t always choose stores simply by the merchandise, especially if the stores are perceived as similar, they also can be chosen based upon people’s values. If the notion of shopping on a holiday is just not agreeable to people, the fact that a store is taking that stand can make a difference,” she said.

Kaufman-Scarborough said these days, even if a store is closed on Thanksgiving, folks can check out the merchandise online.

“If customers decide that, well, I would like to shop, but just not physically go to the store, it also offers the customer that possibility,” she said.

In an informal, unscientific poll conducted by New Jersey 101.5, most shoppers along Route 1 in Mercer County indicated they would not be shopping Thanksgiving night.

“I think people should be home,” said Susan from Hamilton. “We’re trying to be sane about it.”

Another shopper said “I think we should wait until Friday. Being open on Thanksgiving is not appropriate. I think people need to be with their families.”

Joan from Trenton said that to her, "Thanksgiving day is a set-aside day to just hang out and be with family, not necessarily be out shopping.There will be plenty of time to buy things before Christmas.”

Another shopper said, “I will not be shopping, it’s crazy, it’s just too crazy out there, so it doesn’t make sense. I’m spending Thanksgiving with my family, I think that’s where families belong.”

Kaufman-Scarborough said the idea of heading out shopping on Black Friday is more established, and some people have even formed social shopping alliances and partnerships to do this, but shopping on Thanksgiving is still a relatively new concept, so if stores decide against it “it’s not going to affect the retailer’s bottom line, and is likely to create a favorable feeling among potential customers.”