Saturday, December 16, 2017
Business

As holidays creep closer, some stores are refusing to open on Thanksgiving

There are two types of shoppers out there: the ones who live for finding that good deal and the ones who are willing to pay a little more for convenience.

As we edge closer to the holiday shopping season (43 days until Black Friday, but who's counting), the who's who of shoppers will become more readily apparent. Plenty of people will stand in line at stores on Thanksgiving night, waddling through the parking lots with full shopping bags, coupon fliers and heavy bellies before the tryptophan kicks in. But there are plenty who will avoid shopping malls on the holiday weekend, opting to watch football on the couch instead.

Some retailers, like Staples, Gamestop, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Burlington Coat Factory and Costco have decided they're against opening up shop on Thanksgiving Day and refuse to give in to the creep. These stores won't open until Black Friday.

For Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, this makes sense. It's costly to employ workers on Thanksgiving, especially high-end stores whose customers aren't driven by sales anyway.

For Staples and Gamestop, the policy is new this year.

"We want our customers and associates to enjoy Thanksgiving their own way," said Demos Parneros, president of North American stores and online at Staples. The office supplies retailer will open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

"We know this is in stark contrast to what many other retailers are doing, but we are taking a stance to protect family time during this important holiday," said Mike Buskey, executive vice president and president of U.S. stores for Gamestop.

Gamestop stores will open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

Walmart, Target, Kohl's, Macy's and dozens of other retailers have upped the ante every year, opening their doors earlier around Thanksgiving.

Black Friday, which was once among the biggest shopping days of the year, is a shadow of its former self. It has crept into Thanksgiving and lingers into the weekend after. The sense of frenzy for door-buster prices when you can snag deals all weekend long just isn't the same.

"Consumers didn't have to wait until Black Friday for really good deals on gifts and items they wanted," said Matthew Shay, CEO and president of the National Retail Federation.

Now you can go into a Best Buy or JCPenney and find slashed prices on Thanksgiving or Black Friday or Saturday or Sunday.

But there were still plenty of shoppers camped outside Best Buy and Target stores for 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thanksgiving openings last year.

"During the recession, Black Friday deals were critically important as consumers pinched pennies and tightened belts," Shay said. "The recession had a tremendous impact on how consumers shop. They have a few more dollars in their wallets, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to be smart about how and when they spend."

Retail sales are expected to rise by a modest 3.7 percent during the holiday shopping period this year, the NRF predicts. National sales are expected to reach $630 billion. Those last two months will make up 19 percent of the industry's sales for the year.

Some factors could disrupt that. The threat of a government shutdown and slower job creation and income growth could cause sales to fall flat. In 2014, holiday shopping sales grew by 4.1 percent.

Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.

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