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NEW YORK (AP) - Macy's Inc. says it will open most of its stores for the first time on Thanksgiving, breaking a long-standing tradition for the venerable retailer.

In a release issued late Monday, the Cincinnati-based chain said it will open its doors at 8 p.m. on that day and will remain open for 24 hours straight until the close of business on Friday, which is usually about 10 p.m. Last year, the chain opened its doors at midnight right after the holiday. The department store chain cited increasing demand from shoppers for the earlier opening.

The move comes as Macy's faces growing pressure from rival stores and online merchants who are pushing deals on the holiday. Over the years, stores have been expanding their hours on the day after Thanksgiving to get ahead of the competition, but the kickoff is increasingly happening right after shoppers finish their turkey feast.

Last year, Target Corp. opened its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than the previous year. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, began the early bird specials at 8 p.m., two hours earlier than in 2011. Many stores staggered the deals over a two-day period last year to offer more convenience to bargain-hungry shoppers who either want to head to stores after their Thanksgiving feast and shop through the night or want to go to bed with a full belly and wake up early to head out to the stores.

A growing number of mall-based clothing stores like Gap have opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day.

Target, Wal-Mart and Gap have not yet announced their plans for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Macy's, which operates about 800 stores, says it began planning early to allow its employees the time to review available shifts through the holiday season, including during Thanksgiving weekend and to volunteer for the shifts they prefer. About 750 of those locations will be open at 8pm.

Among the deals that Macy's will be pushing as early as Thanksgiving night: $9.99 coffee makers and $49.99 five-piece luggage sets.

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Follow Anne D'Innocenzio at www.twitter.com/adinnocenzio


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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