The retailer will open most of its 1,100 stores at 8 p.m. Last year, Target and Wal-Mart opened their doors on Thanksgiving as well.
The Thanksgiving evening opening is much earlier than last year, when Penney didn't open until 6 a.m. Friday.
Consumers have mixed feelings about retailers choosing to open on the holiday. Some say it's up to the stores to do as they please, while others feel Black Friday is slowly starting to encroach on the Thanksgiving holiday.
Stores are ushering the holiday season in earlier every year, creeping into Thanksgiving. Macy's announced it will also be opening its doors at 8 p.m. Thursday, compared to its midnight Friday opening in 2012.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.