An increasing number of retailers on Long Island and nationally have vowed to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, including many that are reversing course after opening on the holiday in previous years. And some are challenging other retailers to do the same.
The decision by some retailers and mall owners to close on Thanksgiving is twofold, analysts and retailers say. They’re responding to the criticism from shoppers and workers over having store associates work on the holiday. Retailers also say that they can still make sales while the stores are closed because consumers can shop for deals on their online sites.
“When you are dealing with Thanksgiving Day itself, there is a social backlash that people believe that Thanksgiving is a day to be with family,” said Danielle Conte, a retail consultant and founder of the shopping blog YoutailRetail.com in Centerport. “For those retailers that were closed on Thanksgiving, their online sales increased.”
Retailers and mall owners that will be closed on Thanksgiving after previously being open include consumer electronics chain hhgregg, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and national mall operator CBL & Associates. Staples will be closed for the second year in a row.
Long Island-based retailers such as electronics giant P.C. Richard & Son, rug and furniture company Safavieh and kids clothing seller Denny’s, as well as national chains Burlington Stores and GameStop, have never opened on the holiday; most plan to open on Black Friday between 5 and 7 a.m.
“We have not been open on Thanksgiving for the last 107 years, even though there is pressure to open,” said Gregg Richard, chief executive of Farmingdale-based P.C. Richard & Son, whose family-owned company runs an annual advertising campaign about its decision to close on the holiday.
This year, the electronics retailer will push back its opening time on Black Friday from 6 to 7 a.m. “The most important thing for us is for our 2,761 employees to be home with their families and friends. There are things that are more important than the almighty dollar.”
The tactic of opening stores and starting Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving started in 2011. Many major malls on Long Island and chains such as Macy’s, Sears, Kohl’s and Toys R Us are staying committed to opening on Thanksgiving, with the majority unlocking their doors at 5 p.m. Walmart and Target will open at 6 p.m., while JCPenney will open at 3 p.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday.
“We make every effort to staff Thanksgiving with associates who volunteer to work that day and to schedule their desired shifts so they are able to spend time with their families,” said JCPenney spokeswoman Kate Coultas. JCPenney associates who work receive two times their normal pay.
Most major malls on Long Island will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Some will close for a few hours overnight and reopen at 6 a.m. Friday.
Black Friday itself is losing some of its luster for shoppers, analysts say. Increasingly, retailers offer discounts in early November. Shoppers can shop in stores on Thanksgiving Day, or any time online, and get deals.
Last year, Thanksgiving Day in-store sales grossed $1.76 billion, a 12.5 percent drop from 2014, while Black Friday sales were $10.21 billion, an 11.9 percent decrease, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based provider of shopper analytics.
In comparison, e-commerce sales were up last year. A record $4.47 billion was spent online on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday last year, 18 percent more than in 2014, according to software company Adobe Systems Inc., based in San Jose. Of that figure, $2.74 billion was spent online on Black Friday, a 14.3 percent rise.
“The magic of Black Friday has changed over the last couple of years,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, an e-commerce service provider that owns FreeShipping.com, based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.
But he doesn’t expect it to stop. “As a promotional lever, Black Friday is not going to go away, online or offline, because people understand it and it resonates with holiday shoppers.”
2015 Thanksgiving/Black Friday sales
Thanksgiving Day: $1.76 billion, down 12.5% from 2014
Black Friday: $10.21 billion, down 11.9%
Thanksgiving Day: $1.73 billion, % change NA
Black Friday: $2.74 billion, up 14.3%
Sources: ShopperTrak, Adobe Systems Inc.