After years of waffling on whether to be open or not on Thanksgiving Day, many retailers are basing their decision on one cold, hard fact ... money.
“Clearly retailers have been struggling between the retail opportunity and social responsibility,” said Candace Corlett, a retail analyst with WSL Strategic Retail. “I’m sure they are crunching lots of numbers to understand how productive being open on Thanksgiving is.”
In other words, once you factor in requiring employees to work a holiday, how big are the profits?
This year, stores including Target, Belk, Best Buy and Sears will open during the afternoon on Thanksgiving and then close that night, reopening in the morning for Black Friday. One of the earliest to open is J.C. Penney, which is currently struggling with sales. It will open at 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours before rival Macy’s, which opens at 5 p.m.
Walmart stores will be open all day on Thanksgiving, with deals starting in-store at 6 p.m.
Who won’t be open at all on Thanksgiving Day? Nordstrom’s, TJ Maxx, REI, Dillard’s and North Carolina-based Lowe’s.
Ana Smith, senior director of media relations for the National Retail Federation, said retailers are trying to make the best decisions for their companies, employees and customers.
She noted that some stores are realizing that having such long hours over the holiday weekend might not actually be beneficial – especially since many customers are now shopping online.
Last year, the NRF saw online sales increase from the previous year, now making up 10 percent of all retail sales. For the holiday season, they expect between 11 and 15 percent of sales will come from online shopping. Out of the $682 billion they predict will be spent during the holidays, about $143 billion will come from online sales.
Indeed, many retailers are now offering their online deals on Thanksgiving instead of waiting for Cyber Monday. Looking up deals and comparing prices is a sport for many, more entertaining than the football games on TV and something to do while waiting for the turkey to cook.
“In our studies, we learned that customers over Thanksgiving weekend spent half of their time online and half in stores,” Smith said.
But Corlett noted that brick-and-mortar stores still account for the majority of sales, giving retailers plenty of reason to open on the holiday. She said one prominent trend is for stores to close for most of the day and then open later in the day, after people are done eating and are looking for something to do.
She doesn’t consider it a wise strategy.
“Either you believe your employees should be home enjoying Thanksgiving or you believe people really want to be out and shop on Thanksgiving,” she said.
If they do choose to close on the holiday, it’s usually because of business strategy, rather than the moral obligation, Smith said. Even if their stores are closed, retailers’ websites and warehouses are still up and running.
But despite the rise in online sales, Smith said brick-and-mortar stores will remain valuable for holiday shopping.
“We see online as a supplement to the overall shopping experience,” she said. “If you want to be competitive, you need to have a website.”
When they’re open
Here are major retailers’ Thanksgiving and Black Friday hours:
Belk: 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 1 a.m., reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday
Best Buy: Open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 1 a.m., reopening at 8 a.m. on Black Friday
JC Penney: 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and will remain open until 10 p.m. on Black Friday
Kmart: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday
Kohl’s: Open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and remain open throughout Black Friday
Macy’s: Open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 2 a.m., reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday
Nordstrom: Closed on Thanksgiving, opening at 7 a.m. on Black Friday
REI: Closed on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday
Sears: 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, reopening at 5 a.m. on Black Friday
Target: 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday
TJ Maxx: Closed on Thanksgiving, opening at 7 a.m. on Black Friday
Walmart: Open all day with deals beginning at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day
Area mall hours
Triangle Town Center: Closed on Thanksgiving, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday
Crabtree Valley Mall: 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday
Northgate Mall: Closed on Thanksgiving, open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Black Friday
University Place: Closed on Thanksgiving, open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday
Streets at Southpoint: 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday
Note: An anchor store can open even if the mall is not and many have earlier opening hours than the malls they’re located in.