The crucial period for retailers until Christmas is six days shorter this year.

Retailers don't only face the challenge of online competitors and fickle consumer tastes during the crucial holiday shopping season.

This year, they face the challenge of the calendar.

Thanksgiving, which by law is the fourth Thursday of November, falls on Nov. 28 this year, six days later than last year.

Since Black Friday is often seen as the launch of the holiday shopping season, it means this crucial period for retailers until Christmas is six days shorter than in 2018. Thanksgiving last fell on Nov. 28 in 2013.

If consumers don't get into the holiday shopping mood until the after they've eaten turkey and pumpkin pie, they have nearly a week less to shop for their holiday gifts.

"Not really anything you can do about it," said Troy Cefaratti, founder and owner of Sir Troy's Toy Kingdom store in North Canton.

He anticipates some hit to sales from the shorter shopping season.

"If you have five weeks normally, and you only have four weeks this year ... that's a 20 percent reduction in time. We like to hope people make up for that and shop more in the four weeks that we have but that doesn't happen."

As for trying to get customers to come in earlier, "we try to get people in before then (Thanksgiving), but there's people who will just not shop before Black Friday. And unfortunately not much we can do about that. But we've had people start shopping for Christmas already. Some people do shop early. ... I'm confident we'll do well."

Ceferatti said his employees may lose about a week of overtime hours compared to last year with the holiday shopping season kicking off later this year.

Pre-Thanksgiving promotions

Macey Roth, executive team lead at the Target store on Dressler Road NW in Jackson Township, said many customers began their holiday shopping in early November, well before Thanksgiving.

Target nationwide held a two-day Black Friday preview sale last weekend and says the store will have deals each weekend through Dec. 15. The Target.com website will also have an Early Access Sale for its RedCard credit and debit card holders and Target Circle members on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving. That's in addition to its Black Friday promotion and Dec. 1 to 8 Cyber Week Savings.

But will all the pre-Thanksgiving promotions offset a shorter holiday shopping season?

Roth said while a compressed shopping holiday season might lead to more foot traffic in the store in December closer to Christmas, she didn't expect an impact on sales as late shoppers would still buy what they planned to buy.

And more Target customers are ordering online and picking up purchases at the store's Guest Services counter. So many of them may not be joining the other holiday shoppers browsing the store aisles and standing in line at the regular checkout counters. Roth said she has assigned more staff to the Guest Services counter to handle store pickup.

She expected that despite a shorter shopping period in the end, it'll be "about the same as last year."

Same volume, fewer days

Jon Snyder, senior manager at Tuxedo Junction in North Canton, doesn't anticipate the shortened holiday shopping period affecting his business. That's because most of its customers rent for events like weddings and proms in the spring. Most of the holiday business comes from the sale of accessories.

But Snyder says stores that rely heavily on holiday business will have to have extended holiday hours.

"You'll have less days to do as much business," Snyder said.

He also predicts that a shorter shopping season makes shopping online without leaving home more enticing for people pressed for time.

If they're not willing to shop before Thanksgiving, they'll find themselves with six fewer days to shop for gifts and "they don't want to spend time shopping in a store. ... (many) people have no patience to shop."

Howard Miller, one of the owners of Hartville Hardware in Lake Township, says Thanksgiving being later in November might actually help his business.

As many customers buy holiday decorations before Thanksgiving, they now have extra time to make that purchase.

But ultimately, he said, if people feel they have to buy gifts, even with the shorter time frame, "they're going to buy gifts."

Among the most popular gifts his store sells are power tools and Carhartt clothing. He said usually customers don't spend much time browsing for holiday gifts. They arrive knowing what they want to buy.

The shorter shopping period "it's going to affect us, but I don't think it's going to be a big deal for us," Miller said.

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or robert.wang@cantonrep.com.

On Twitter: @rwangREP