By  on November 7, 2011

Retailers are dramatically extending hours hoping to avoid a holiday turkey and minimize the last-minute Christmas rush.

Gap Inc. will open 1,000 stores on Thanksgiving Day, including 800 Old Navy units — 80 percent of the fleet — as well as 116 Gaps, 54 Banana Republics, 30 Gap and Banana Republic outlets, and eight Athleta stores. Last year, Gap used the same strategy, but with a few hundred fewer stores. “Our customers have given us terrific feedback about the option of getting a head start on their shopping at our stores on Thanksgiving Day,” said Tom Wyatt, president of Old Navy.

By midnight Black Friday, almost all Old Navy stores, a total of 300 Gap and Banana Republic outlets, 104 Banana Republics and 266 Gap stores will be open for business. Gap also said it was expanding its mobile shopping offerings and social media push to capture greater holiday traffic.

Competitors are also chasing customers with unorthodox operating hours. Target will be open at midnight — earlier than ever — on Black Friday, and is extending store hours through the season. Target also said if a shopper finds an ad from a competitor with a lower price on an identical item, it will match the price as long as the ad is effective.

Macy’s also will open at midnight after Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season, and will offer doorbuster sales on hundreds of items. Terry Lundgren, Macy’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, said the midnight maneuver was “in response to our customers’ eagerness to shop early for great deals.”

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