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November 17, 2012

Area malls opening even earlier on Black Friday

PEABODY — This Thanksgiving, you can have your turkey with all the trimmings, watch a football game, take a long nap, then head to the malls for some Black Friday bargains.

Following a trend toward expanded hours by large retailers on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, both the Northshore Mall in Peabody and the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers will open at 12:30 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 23.

“I think it’s a little chaotic, but I think it’s great,” Brooke Paoli of Lynnfield said. “I plan to hit up Toys R Us and get the toys done for the kids.”

Anchor retailers at the malls have long been opening early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, with openings on Thanksgiving Day restricted by the state’s centuries-old blue laws. These laws, dating back to the Puritans, govern Sunday and holiday openings. Many of them, like bans on the sale of liquor on Sunday, have been repealed in recent decades.

Malls in New Hampshire are opening even earlier. The Fox Run Mall in Newington, N.H. will open at midnight, as will the Mall at Rockingham Park in Salem, N.H.

Next week’s 12:30 a.m. opening is the earliest the two Massachusetts malls have ever opened on this busy shopping day, says Mark Whiting, Northshore Mall’s general manager.

“Simon (Property Group) really recognizes we are here to satisfy two customers,” Whiting said of the malls’ owner. “The first customer obviously is our shopper, but our second customer, if you are a property manager like we are, is obviously our tenant. So, we take our lead from our tenants.”

Amid a challenging economy, retailers are looking to expand their operating hours as much as they can on this day, Whiting said.

“If we are going to be supportive of our tenants’ business model,” Whiting said, “we are going to have to be flexible in how we operate our centers.”

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