Black Friday 2011: Walmart to Open Thanksgiving to Offer $5 Barbie Dolls

Is Thanksgiving at risk due to demand for cheap deals?

Walmart has officially announced it will begin its Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving night at 10 p.m., possibly causing millions of America families to cut short their time with each other in order to get an early start on Christmas shopping.

The nation's largest retailer is also America's largest employer, with over 1.4 million employees, according to Business Insider. Many of those employees will be required to work Thanksgiving in order to prepare for the onslaught of customers scrambling to save big on various products.

According to the Associated Press, Walmart stores will open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, which will be followed by more “Black Friday” deals at midnight. At 8 a.m. the following morning, there will be even more deals around the store.

"Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we're going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising officer at Wal-Mart's U.S. division, in a statement.

Opening earlier for Black Friday last year was a boon for Walmart, which has inspired the retail giant to open even earlier this year. The new strategy comes shortly after Walmart announced it was forced to completely eliminate all health benefits for new employees who work 24 hours or less per week, due to the economic slump, despite posting over $16 billion in profits last year.

“Over the last few years, we’ve all seen our health care rates increase and it’s probably not a surprise that this year will be no different,” said Walmart spokesman Greg Rossiter, in the New York Times.

“We made the difficult decision to raise rates that will affect our associates’ medical costs. The decisions made were not easy, but they strike a balance between managing costs and providing quality care and coverage,” he added.

Walmart has been listed as the top of the Fortune 500 list for two years in a row.

Despite the effects Walmart's early sales will have on Thanksgiving, shoppers are still excited to be able to get deals.

"I think it's great,” said Ohio resident, Brenda Whitter to WCPO-TV. “Get out there earlier, get more deals, so we have longer through the day, spread out."

Among the 10 p.m. deals will be $10 Wrangler jeans and $5 Barbie dolls.

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