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    Walmart stores in Mass. will open later on Black Friday

    Chain officials say Mass. stores won’t open until 4 a.m.

    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press/file
    Walmart officials cited state law for their decision not to open until 4 a.m. on Black Friday, but other chains say they are opening at midnight.

    Starting at midnight on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, Walmart stores will offer big savings on television sets, Blu-ray players, and laptops - but Massachusetts holiday shoppers won’t be able to get into the stores for hours.

    The retail giant originally said it would begin the Black Friday holiday frenzy at midnight in Massachusetts. But in a reversal, the chain now says Massachusetts stores won’t open until 4 a.m. on Nov. 25.

    A Walmart press release yesterday explained the change by citing discrepancies “between store openings advertised in some national ads and requirements of state laws,’’ an apparent reference to the state’s so-called blue laws, which prohibit businesses from opening on holidays without a permit.

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    However, other retailers, including Target and Macy’s, will open at midnight on Black Friday in Massachusetts.

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    Bill Wertz, the division director for public affairs and government relations at Wal-Mart, said: “Because of state laws restricting associates from working on Thanksgiving Day [in Massachusetts], we decided that 4 a.m. is the optimal time to open stores.’’

    “It is strange,’’ said Chris G. Christopher Jr. of the Lexington forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, especially since the big retail chains, including Walmart, have stepped up their promotions building up to Black Friday.

    “There has been a lot of competition since late October and early November,’’ Christopher said. “They have been swinging at each other with price promotion and trying to match each other.’’

    Brad Puffer, a spokesman for the state attorney general’s office, said he could not shed any light on why Walmart stores are opening later here than in the rest of the country. Restrictions on business openings on Sundays and holidays are enforced by the attorney general’s fair labor division.

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    The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday because it kicks off the holiday shopping season, the period that can put businesses into the black for the year.

    Johnny Diaz can be reached at jodiaz@globe.com.