Bucking a recent trend in which “sales creep” had led to retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day more than 75 major national retailers have announced that this year’s Christmas shopping season will kick off on Black Friday, the day after the national holiday.
The trend was started two years ago when the REI outdoor-clothing chain gave all its employees both Thanksgiving and Black Friday off. Last year, 60 national retailers gave workers Thanksgiving off, a move that was hailed as a return to sanity amid the over-commercialized holiday season.
The trend has also been praised for giving retail employees a chance to enjoy the holiday again with their families. According to Pasadena Chamber of Commerce CEO/President Paul Little, the move is a refreshing indication that major retailers are starting to be considerate of their staffs — but he also notes that most chamber members have been respecting the holiday all along.
“Most of our members, especially retailers, tend to be the smaller local guys who aren’t open on Thanksgiving anyway,” says Little. “I’ve always thought it’s better to spend that day with family. Personally I am not real appreciative of the holiday ‘shopping creep’ that’s been happening.
“At some point there’s more than enough,” adds Little. “I’m not somebody who would shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday. It’s just not something that appealed to me and I appreciate that more and more large companies are realizing that sometimes it’s better to put employees over a quick profit.”
Little’s opinions mirror that of the people polled in BestBlackFriday.com’s online survey of 523 American adults, conducted in September. The survey found that 57 percent of respondents disliked the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving, with just 16 percent thinking of Thanksgiving openings favorably.
“In my experience retailers typically have some flexibility regarding their hours of operation during the holiday season,” says Gina Tleel, executive director of the South Lake Business Association. “However, with so many additional revenue generating promotions offered year round, whether on line or in store, it’s great to see retailers prioritizing time off for employees to spend it with family and friends.”
The BestBlackFriday.com site also publishes a full Thanksgiving Closures List, which includes such heavy hitters as Home Depot, Marshalls, Costco, Burlington, and DSW-Designer Shoe Warehouse. The categories are diverse as well, stretching from men’s clothiers such as Jos. A. Bank and La-Z-Boy recliners to Home Depot, Hobby Lobby and Ethan Allen furniture.
In addition, at least two major companies operating shopping malls will close their locations on Thanksgiving, with Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust shutting 10 malls in Pennsylvania and New Jersey — up from three malls closed last year.
Meanwhile, Tennessee-based CBL Properties will close its 62 malls across 27 states, with most of its properties located in the St. Louis, Cincinnati and Kansas City metropolitan areas. With most of these locations and the retailers expected to open at 6 a.m. Friday, however, sales are expected to be brisk and jump four percent over last year due to strong consumer confidence and low unemployment.
The current US unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, which effectively constitutes full employment. The Consumer Confidence Survey of the Conference Board details consumer attitudes and buying intentions, with data available by age, income and region on a monthly basis. The current reading of 125.6 is the highest in nearly 17 years.
Holiday retail sales could total as much as $682 billion, soaring over 2016’s seasonal totals of $655.8 billion. Popular purchases are expected to be Apple’s newest devices, as well as video games and appliances — making this one season that’s sure not to leave a lump of coal in anyone’s stocking.