Christmas Day profits hard for businesses to resist

mhankerson@newsobserver.comDecember 25, 2013 

— Although Wednesday was an oasis of rest for most retailers before after-Christmas sales start Thursday, more than you would think opted out of the short lull in shopping.

Working on Christmas Day can mean sacrificing family time, but some business owners say staying open can be an easy way to get new customers and profit by offering a service when most other retailers are closed.

Jalil Belmouloud, the owner of Francesca’s Dessert Cafe on Ninth Street in Durham, has found a way to mix the two.

Francesca’s is one of the only businesses open on the normally bustling street Christmas morning, but he brings his family to the shop with him.

“It’s a day where I should hang out with my family so I’m bringing them here,” he said. “We’ll still be together as a family.”

Since most of the shopping on Ninth Street is closed, Belmouloud said he usually only sees regulars, friends and families come in.

Occasionally, a new family comes by, he said, and they often become regulars.

Early reservation needed

On the other hand, some restaurants have found being open on Christmas can bring in big business.

Brittany King, the manager of Flight’s restaurant at Renaissance Raleigh Hotel, said about 200 diners made reservations for the restaurant’s $35 Christmas dinner.

On a typical weekend, King said the restaurant has about 60 groups come through.

“It’s something people are getting more and more interested in,” she said. “It’s getting more popular to eat out (on the holidays).”

Flight’s offers a Thanksgiving service in addition to its Christmas service, but King said Christmas is usually more popular. This year, the service was booked almost three weeks before the holiday, and more calls looking for reservations came in on Christmas Eve.

This year, for both holidays, King said the restaurant saw a lot of two- and four-person groups making reservations.

“It seems to be a lot of people who have family in town,” she said. “(It’s also) a lot of older couples and smaller, local families.”

Other local restaurants offered holiday services for varying prices. The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill offered a $55.95 Christmas brunch, the Washington Duke Inn served a Christmas buffet for $69 per diner and Heron’s in Cary put together a four-course Christmas menu for $90.

Dinner and a movie? Major movie theaters also stay open for Christmas.

Russ Nunley, vice president of marketing and communications for the Regal Entertainment Group, said Christmas Day is one of the busiest days for Regal theaters (like the one at North Hills in Raleigh), but he said the company does not release sales information for individual locations.

Chains open select stores

CVS stores opened late on Christmas Day and only a limited number operated on its normal 24-hour schedule.

Walgreens stores were open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with select pharmacies closing an hour before the store. Only 1,600 Walgreens nationwide stayed open 24 hours.

Most Rite-Aid stores closed for Christmas Day, but one store on Edwards Mill Road had normal operation hours.

At other chain stores, like Starbucks, it’s hard to gauge how much more business the stores get on a day like Christmas.

The company said only select stores are open and individual stores adjusted hours based on how much business they anticipated.

Stacie Young, a Raleigh resident, said Christmas Day at her favorite Starbucks didn’t feel any busier than a normal day.

She visits the North Hills Starbucks every day, and wasn’t there Wednesday for any special reason because she doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

“I just came out for a cup of coffee,” she said.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service