business news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports this morning on how a number of malls and stores have concluded, "after spending several years rushing to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day," that "opening on Thanksgiving is too much of a headache."

According to the story, "Office Depot, Mall of America and the electronics store HHGregg have all announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving. Other retailers like Sears will open fewer stores, and of the locations that do open, many will have shorter hours. The companies give different reasons for the shift - employees should be able to spend time with family, for one - but the overriding message is clear."

That message can be seen in the numbers: "The number of people shopping on Thanksgiving Day has been declining," the Times writes. "Last year, 34.6 million adults shopped on Thanksgiving, down from 43.1 million in 2014 and 44.8 million in 2013, according to annual surveys from the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group, and Prosper Insights & Analytics. In 2014, total sales for the Thanksgiving weekend fell 11 percent from the previous year, according to the most recent year-over-year comparison from the retail federation."

The story notes that it has been pressure from online retailers such as Amazon - open 24/7, 365 days a year - that pushed many retailers to cut prices more sharply and open earlier on Thanksgiving. And for some, promotions-driven companies such as Walmart and Target, the strategy remains in place.

But elsewhere, "Retailers are now rethinking whether the potential benefits outweigh other headaches."
KC's View:
I guess it is unlikely that anybody is going to go as far as REI, which is not just staying closed on Thanksgiving, but also Black Friday.

Listen, retailers have to do what they have to do, and I understand the whole "we have to compete effectively with Amazon" thing. But as someone who always has thought that Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year, I'm glad that there is a trend moving away from opening on that day. Just seems appropriate to me.