With another holiday season quickly approaching, this is a time of year in which retail management is gearing up for the fast-paced frenzy that soon follows after the leaves begin to disappear from the trees as quickly as the Halloween candy disappears from households across the country. Store locations are already beginning to decorate the stores, companies are adding seasonal sales and sales support staff, and retail distribution channels are operating at full capacity to fill the stores with merchandise in preparation for the critical weeks ahead that can make or break the year for many organizations. These traditional happenings mark some of the more predictable retail industry trends that occur on an annual basis, but the evolution of retailing is also leading to other tendencies that are rapidly changing the way we shop, and the way that we sell retail products.
In one of the most noticeable retail industry trends in recent years, much more is being consumed on Thanksgiving than turkey and all the traditional trimmings. The day itself is being devoured by retailers and bargain-hunting shoppers as the holiday shopping season is being further extended over the Black Friday weekend as retailers engage in an aggressive game of Thanksgiving store hour one-upmanship.
The skirmishes began years ago as retailers launched store openings earlier and earlier on the morning of Black Friday to lure the huge crowds of bargain-busting shoppers into retail locations. Six o’clock openings were moved to five o’clock to steer early risers into the stores, with some retailers responding with, “Hey, why not 4:00 am?” Naturally, this morphed into stores just deciding to open on Thursday evening at 8:00 pm—which then became 6:00 pm, then 5:00 pm…and so forth.
There are several retailers that have a history of opening earlier and earlier each year for Thanksgiving/Black Friday, and by the time they announce sale launch times for this year, it’s likely they’ll be welcoming deal-seeking shoppers sometime in the early afternoon of Thanksgiving, before the day’s first NFL game has even ended—and before the turkey is on the table in many American households. Even in an age of e-commerce and omni-channel retailing that has opened so many different options for consumers, there are many retail organizations that feel the need to open their doors to meet the demands of a highly competitive retail market. Clearly, some consumers will go shopping whenever retailers say their doors will open for Black Friday sales, no matter if it’s a national holiday.
At the same time, however, there are several retailers that have not only confirmed they will remain closed on the holiday, they are promoting the fact that they are staying closed.
For example, a spokesperson for one company stated, “We consider ourselves an Associate-friendly Company, and, we are pleased to give our Associates the time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.”
“Some things are sacred, including spending time with family and loved ones on Thanksgiving and other holidays. We profitably run our business during the remaining 358 days of the year, so we don’t have to sacrifice tradition for the sake of sales,” claimed another retailer.
“Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that,” proclaimed another.
The gist of them all is: We’re the good guys that care about keeping American holidays sacred, and we’re giving our workers Thanksgiving off to spend with their families to prove it. As for stores that are insisting on opening on Thanksgiving … you can draw your own conclusions.
On the other side of the stage, there are those that argue that such decisions can be valuable both for the retailer and the retail customer. As value-oriented retailers start to announce their holiday hours, however, it’s likely that those retailers that thrive on door-buster deals, will once again kick off their sales on Thursday. As they compete for customers with limited resources and tighter budgets, it only becomes more important for those retailers who compete on price to make themselves available wherever and wherever their consumers want them to be.
What do you think? This week’s LP Magazine Instant Poll asks: Should retail stores be open on Thanksgiving?
a) No. Thanksgiving is a day to celebrate with friends and family.
b) No. Retailers should explore other options such as e-commerce opportunities
c) Yes. Retailers need to stay open to stay competitive
d) Yes. Many shoppers like to shop early and capitalize on the deals.
To take this week’s poll, click here.
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