Not everyone is happy with the trend. The United Food and Commercial Workers union has been organizing a nationwide protest of Walmart's plan to begin its Black Friday sales blitz by opening its doors Thanksgiving at 8 p.m.

But Jill Cashen, a union spokeswoman, said she hadn't heard of department stores other than Boscov's getting a jump on the holiday by opening on the morning of the holiday.

"It's a trend that retail workers are concerned about," she said.

Cashen said grocery workers have long accepted that Thanksgiving morning work was part of their jobs.

"I think there's a more urgent need for food than for electronics and linens," she said.

Cashen said that in grocery stores with union contracts workers get holiday pay and have bidding rights for whether to be on or off on Thanksgiving. She expressed concern than in nonunion shops, workers may not have those rights.

Boscov's employees said they were receiving double pay for the day.

With Thanksgiving Day no longer sacrosanct, it remains to be seen whether Christmas Day will be next for big stores. Boscov said he hopes not.

"It wouldn't be our plan to open on Christmas," he said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Edward Gunts and Jill Rosen contributed to this report.

michael.dresser@baltsun.com