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On this day before Thanksgiving, we offer you what you usually don’t get until the day after Thanksgiving: leftovers! Here are some Thanksgiving tidbits to enjoy before the big day:

Target’s Turkey is Tops
“We aren’t in the business of high-low pricing or gimmicks,” a Walmart executive sniffed, in reaction to competitors’ deals on Thanksgiving staples. Too bad, because Target has them beat. A Bloomberg Industries analysis found that a complete Thanksgiving dinner costs less at Target than at Walmart. The total for 18 traditional Thanksgiving items, including turkey, cranberries, onions, corn, pumpkin and heavy cream, was $45.48 at Target , and $52.31 at Walmart. “Target has been pretty clear, through their actions, that they want to have a very competitive holiday season so it’s not surprising that it translated over to food,” the study’s author said.

The highest prices were $81.20 at Greensboro, North Carolina-based The Fresh Market, $70.82 at Supervalu-owned Acme and $70.18 at Whole Foods. But Walmart gets the last laugh – the lowest price was at Walmart-owned Sam’s Club. $36.39 – less than half the price as The Fresh Market, for all the same stuff.

Free Turkey, or Turkey-Free?
One way to keep down the cost of Thanksgiving is to get your turkey for free. A number of supermarkets have been offering such deals (read: “Gobble Up Cheap Turkey Now, While You Still Can”) but one has backfired a bit. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Miami-based Hispanic supermarket chain Sedano’s offered a free turkey with the purchase of $30 in groceries. Key words: “while supplies last.” After a few days, those “supplies” ran out, leaving many frustrated customers turkey-less. “The store was giving verbal rain checks for those turkeys offered and not in stock,” one customer commented on the store’s Facebook page, but the store later announced that the supply of free turkeys was gone.

“There was a strong response from the community,” Sedano’s said in a statement. “We gave more than 43,000 turkeys to our customers. We sympathize with all of those who wanted to participate, but we hope that we brought something special to the homes of those who did.” Another unfortunate lesson for a store trying to be generous with a turkey promotion (read: “When Customers Attack!”) – the complaints of those who missed out can drown out the satisfied but silent customers who got the deal – and read the fine print.

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Tweeting About Turkey
As usual, the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line will be up and running on Thanksgiving for those last-minute questions. But dialing a phone number is so old-fashioned when you can tweet instead! All week, the executive chef of Rochester, New York-based Wegmans has been answering Thanksgiving questions submitted via Twitter. “We really want to be where our customers are,” the store’s internet marketing coordinator told Rochester’s Your News Now. So call 1-800-BUTTERBALL if you’re the old-fashioned type – or just tweet @Wegmans using the hashtag #Turkey911 if you prefer your answer in 140 characters or less.

Thanks for Being Open, But Shame on You for Being Open!
There’s been plenty of outcry aimed at stores that are starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving night. “Thanksgiving is for family, not your greed,” reads a typical post on Target‘s Facebook page. But is there no such sympathy for grocery store employees who are working on Thanksgiving? Plenty of grocery stores will be open for those last-minute, forgotten ingredients.

But Target just can’t win. It may have one of the lowest-priced Thanksgiving meals, but it’s closing during the day on Thanksgiving so it can reopen that night for Black Friday. Many customers – as well as employees who will be working – aren’t happy about it. That prompted Target to issue a public response: “Target’s Thanksgiving opening time was carefully evaluated,” reads a company statement. “Across the company, only one-third of Target’s store team members are scheduled to work on Thanksgiving, and we continue to hear from store after store that there were more volunteers than shifts to fill.”

Since it never actually closes, except on Christmas Day, Walmart largely escaped the early-opening Black Friday criticism. So too did the dollar stores – Dollar General, Family Dollar and Dollar Tree, all of which will be open on Thanksgiving. As the dollar stores sell more food items alongside their trinkets, staying open on Thanksgiving is a recognition that they’re a Thanksgiving necessity for some. “In many communities, we are the only store to which our customers have access,” Family Dollar’s president said. “We are proud to open our doors on Thanksgiving Day to customers who need us to make their holiday complete.”

The bottom line, says Forbes contributor Erika Morphy, is that when it comes to opening on Thanksgiving, many stores don’t have much of a choice. “Corporate greed is blamed for the decision,” she writes, “and technically that is true if one defines corporate greed as staying solvent.” Online shopping on Thanksgiving Day is on the rise, so brick-and-mortar stores simply don’t want to – and can’t afford to – miss out.

Happy Thanksgiving!
However you celebrate – shopping, couponing, or just taking a break from it all – happy Thanksgiving and we’ll be back with more news when it’s all over!

photo by: tuchodi

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