Is closing on Thanksgiving day becoming the new being open on Thanksgiving day?
This week, Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping mall, announced it was bucking the recent trend of opening stores to shoppers on Thanksgiving.
Instead, Mall of America said it would close on Thanksgiving so its 14,000 or so employees could have the day off to spend time with their family, although the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the more than 520 stores inside Mall of America will have the option of opening if they so choose.
"We think Thanksgiving is a day for families and for people we care about," Jill Renslow, the mall's senior vice president of marketing, told Associated Press when the news was announced on Oct. 5. "We want to give this day back."
Could Mall of America’s very publicized decision to remain closed on Thanksgiving day when more and more retailers seem to have been engaged in a Cold War of late to open earlier and earlier that day tip the scales back in favor of stores remaining closed on Thanksgiving day?
That does appear to be a trend that is steadily gaining steam among some of the nation’s most recognizable retailers.
Last month, the office supplies chain Staples made it a point to announce that it would remain closed on Thanksgiving day for the second year in a row, while last year outdoor retailer REI heavily publicized its decision to close its stores on both Thanksgiving day and Black Friday.
“We're a different kind of company, and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently,” REI President and CEO Jerry Stritzke said in a YouTube post. “We’re choosing to opt outside and want you to come with us.”
But Staples, REI and now Mall of America aren’t the only retailers jumping on board this train. The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Nordstrom and GameStop have all also announced plans to close on Thanksgiving day this year.
In fact, there’s a whole list of stores that plan to close for Thanksgiving this year listed on TheBlackFriday.com, and they include such notable names as BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, Sam’s Club, Petco, PetSmart, Pier 1 Imports and Crate and Barrel.
It’s a thing that seems more and more to be becoming a trend with retailers after years of stores pushing or being pushed to open earlier and earlier to kick off massive Black Friday sales until openings began to encroach on Thanksgiving day itself.
Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, began opening on Thanksgiving day in 2012. This year, the mall doesn’t plan to open until 5 a.m. on Black Friday.
Retailers trying to open earlier than their competitors on Thanksgiving day has become something of a Cold War over the past few years. In 2014, Macy’s announced that it planned to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than the previous year, and stores like Kohl’s and Sears soon followed suit by announcing that they too planned to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, according to a Time report. When Macy’s announced that year that it would open its doors at 6 p.m. to shoppers, JCPenney then announced that it planned to open its doors at 5 p.m.
Kmart said that year that it planned to open at 6 a.m. and stay open for 42 hours straight.
As more stores seem willing to remain closed on Thanksgiving day, the practice of opening appears to be becoming more palpable to consumers.
When RichRelevance, an omnichannel personalization platform, surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers this year, it found that 55 percent were either annoyed or very annoyed by the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving day, but in that same survey, in 2014, 65 percent said the same thing.
But Marshal Cohen, a retail analyst for The NPD Group, is skeptical that the pendulum will swing all the way back to where it was before most major retailers began opening on Thanksgiving day.
“Do I see the rest of the country doing it? No,” Cohen told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Do I see it going back in that direction? A little bit. I think some stores may realize that it may be an expense they may not want to have, but they’re also afraid to not do it.”