HOBART | Three major department stores will start their holiday shopping sales Thanksgiving night, and Hobart police will adjust patrols to deal with the traffic flow.
Macy's and J.C. Penney, inside Westfield Southlake Mall, and Kohl's, located at the corner of U.S. 30 and Mississippi Street, will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night, getting a jump on the traditional Black Friday shopping blitz.
In past holiday seasons, some stores along the busy U.S. 30 corridor have opened at midnight or the early morning hours the Friday after Thanksgiving.
"Every Black Friday, we have had an onslaught of people racing to one or two stores," Police Chief Rick Zormier said. "Spreading out the starting time is a benefit to us."
The earlier start for the shopping season means, an early start of increased police patrols, said Hobart police Sgt. Jeremy Ogden.
Ogden estimates that during any one shift, during the holidays, there are some 13-16 police officers making their presence in the U.S. 30 corridor.
Those numbers include police who also work second jobs inside the mall or in stores along U.S. 30.
In addition, administrators have authorized overtime for Hobart patrol officers during the holidays.
"Our patrols will be increased and we will be out there earlier," Ogden said.
Hobart police also maintain a good relationship with mall security.
"We will work a combined effort starting on Thanksgiving and through Christmas," Ogden said.
Although only three department stores have indicated they are opening on Thanksgiving night, Ogden said he sees other businesses following suit in coming years.
"They (other businesses) will probably jump on the band wagon," Ogden said.
Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said the opening of the Hobart stores on Thanksgiving shouldn't have much of an impact on traffic in his adjacent U.S. 30 community.
He, too, thinks an early start on Thanksgiving probably is a good thing.
"It should help by having some stores opening earlier," Petruch said.