Will Anyone Shop at Kmart Before Dawn on Thanksgiving Day?

Discussion
Nov 05, 2013

For all the grief some retailers are taking for plans to open stores on Thanksgiving night, you would think there would be more of an uproar over Kmart’s decision to once again swing open its doors at 6:00 a.m. on that morning. Perhaps, the lack of protest may have something to do with the dwindling number of people who see the chain’s stores as a shopping destination for the Christmas selling season.

Kmart has been opening pre-dawn on Thanksgiving going back to 2010. In a twist on this year’s event, the chain plans to keep its stores open for 41 straight hours.

The chain is promoting its lease-to-own option as a means to get cash strapped consumers, who may not use the company’s layaway program, into stores. Working with Whynot Leasing, LLC, Kmart touts the program as "a no- credit-required way to take home products they need or want, right away — including doorbuster items."

Brian Sozzi of Belus Capital Advisors doesn’t think early hours or lease-to-own options will do much good for Kmart with stores he describes as "dreadful to visit" and "borderline unsafe." In a blog post on the company’s site, Mr. Sozzi published photos of a recent visit to Kmart that demonstrate the why behind his characterization.

Sears Holdings, Kmart’s parent company, has dismissed Mr. Sozzi’s photos and analysis as describing an isolated case. The company, despite long-standing criticism, continues to defend its spending on store upkeep as adequate to meet the needs of its customers.

How much of a benefit will Kmart receive from opening before sunrise on Thanksgiving Day? Would Kmart’s approach work better for another discounter?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

25 Comments on "Will Anyone Shop at Kmart Before Dawn on Thanksgiving Day?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Steve Montgomery
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

There will be a number of customers who will definitely take advantage of the early opening hours at Kmart. Will it impact other retailers? Based the fact the early hours have not been adopted by others it would appear the impact is limited. This may be because the retailers feel the backlash from their employees and/or customers is not worth the small gain.

Would it work better for another discounter? Based the store conditions shown in Mr. Sozzi’s photos, the answer would certainly seem to be yes.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

When does it hurt enough for an activist investor to leave after strangling a brand? Maybe when enough visitors want to ship their pants.

Tony Orlando
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

It is starting already as the online vs. B&M stores battle it out for the dwindling dollars in a very weak economy. As I grow older, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
The competition is brutal, and the big boys will dominate once again as IMO, Amazon will win the day, with people staying at home and clicking for what they need for high-end goods.
Free shipping (not really) is the norm now, and margins will be squeezed, so let the rumble begin!

Kmart will do business, but not worth teeing off employees who would rather be home.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Pretty minimal benefit given everyone opens early (or the night before, certainly a harbinger of the end of civilization). As to his pictures – we have three revitalized Kmarts near us and they are all nicer to shop than our Walmarts.

Joan Treistman
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

There are overarching questions that are not being asked. Do shoppers want access to retail stores on Thanksgiving Day? If so, what stores are most likely to benefit from this and how do they and others leverage that desire?

When those questions are answered, Kmart and others can plan their strategy. For some retailers store and employee policies are a vital part of their decision making. And there are ordinances and other parameters to take into account across all geographies.

There’s no point in deciding on before-sunrise openings without knowing something about who will show up…shoppers and employees alike. The same fundamental questions have to be addressed for all discounters and non-discounters before deciding when to open and when to stay closed.

If it’s about generating profitable revenue then all the variables that influence the bottom line have to be considered.

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
8 years 6 months ago

The value of Kmart opening its stores before sunrise on Thanksgiving is a moot question. They have continually opened their stores on Thanksgiving, but Kmart is still approaching Eddie Lampert’s Landfill. But other reasons also apply.

When Kmart first opened stores on Thanksgiving a couple of decades ago, it was a successful and an even bigger company than Walmart.

So, yes, Kmart’s approach would work better for another discounter.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

You can count on me being part of the none who should show up on Thanksgiving morning. This is ridiculous and certainly not beneficial to the brand (what is left of it) or its employees (what is left of them).

Jeff Hall
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I’d be surprised if Kmart realized much of any benefit at all to opening so early on Thanksgiving Day.

The brand has become so irrelevant to such a wide swath of consumers, that this ploy won’t do anything to convince shoppers to head to Kmart – likely why there hasn’t been any uproar over this news – it isn’t even a blip on consumers’ radar.

The stores are dingy, unattractive and devoid of any unique merchandise offerings, making it the last place on most holiday shopping destinations.

James Tenser
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

The “spend it here first” strategy of opening earlier than one’s competitors seems slightly more desperate than “we will not be undersold.”

Is a quick nickel in November worth more than an uncertain slow dime over the next four weeks? Well, there’s probably some advantage in accelerated turn. If a segment of the shopper population likes the idea of a pre-turkey spending spree, then why not cater to it?

To make this work, Kmart needs to make sure its stores are nice to visit and its product offerings are compelling. Otherwise, the early-opening excitement will be like wallpapering over a crumbling edifice.

Paul Stanton
Guest
Paul Stanton
8 years 6 months ago

Kmart needs customer count…this could make them a ‘check us out first…before you buy’.

Eric Chester
Guest
Eric Chester
8 years 6 months ago

As the saying goes, ‘desperate people do desperate things’.

Any revenue benefit that this struggling retailer receives will be offset by the negative publicity that is coming their way by this foolish move. And no one can convince me that Kmart employees are happy about this.

With retailers such as Costco, The Container Store, Whole Foods, etc., winning market share and employee engagement thru their commitment to conscious capitalism, Kmart is on a runaway train heading the opposite direction.

David Livingston
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Kmart can do nothing at this point to get me and a lot of other consumers to come to the store. Even if they said everything is free – take it, I wouldn’t go. Kmart’s approach would definitely work better for successful retailer.

Mark Heckman
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Kmart is clearly looking for anything at this point to create sales and provide an edge. With all the other retailers who have better merchandise, better deals, and better stores also doing something out of the norm around Thanksgiving and on Black Friday, I think this effort will be a dud.

Kmart would be better off refining their merchandising and focusing their efforts on competing better day in and day out. Let people sleep in on Thanksgiving Day!

Gordon Arnold
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

If you are a retailer, it should be no secret that the current market is loaded with consumers approved for cash transactions only. With this in mind, Kmart is smart to open before the competition while the consumer is able and anxious to get in on the best holiday deals. I am wondering if Mr. Sozzi offered any photograph opportunities for Kmart opening his home and office as an example of how things should be kept in fine order? I think not!

Cathy Hotka
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

The real headline here is “Irrelevant Chain Desperately Seeks Publicity, As Shoppers Stay Home, Eat, and Thank God.”

Karen McNeely
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

I feel as though the me-too and one upmanship between retailers on opening around Thanksgiving is more like a pissing match between them than something that will actually have a positive impact on business. For Kmart specifically, I don’t think the masses who don’t normally shop at Kmart will start just because they are open on Thanksgiving, unless they urgently need a turkey baster and that is their only option.

Bruce Buckley
Guest
Bruce Buckley
8 years 6 months ago

To offer some balance to those who seem to love hanging black crepe, we continue to frequent Kmart’s White Plains Road store in Westchester County, NY. It’s bright, clean and heavily shopped. We like it because we can buy things there – like an electric hand-mixer or set of replacement teaspoons – that are easier to find and less expensive than similar items in a nearby Bed, Bath & Beyond or Chef’s Central. But would we shop there on Thanksgiving morning? No.

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
8 years 6 months ago

Based on the current situation, Kmart will probably attract the hard driven bargain hunters, but with so many other channels and competitors for the same assortment, likely more looking than purchasing.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

As others here have noted, Kmart’s problem isn’t that few people will shop there before dawn, it’s that few will shop there AFTER dawn (and all the hours and days that follow).
Would this approach would work for a “successful” retailer? We’ll never know, because a successful retailer isn’t so desperate as to attempt it.

Lee Peterson
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

The whole thing is out of control IMO. Makes my subscription to AdBusters look like a stroke of genius.

The sad thing though is that now, it’s a competitive issue; you almost have to stay open. But a REAL point of differentiation, i.e. Blue Ocean strategy, would be to take a ‘no mas’ approach to the madness and say, “we’re different, we’re closed on Thanksgiving Day so all families, yours and ours, can spend more time together.” You know, the ‘better’ brand vs the ‘more-more-more’ brand. Get some guts, retailers.

Joel Rubinson
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

It will boost sales and even boost the brand a bit if they play it right.
Ultimately, this is probably what many shoppers want. I guess online sales patterns would give us the best indicator of demand, and comScore would have those.

Mark Burr
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

The answer is “No” and “No.” At then end of the day, the sales that are accumulated will not swing one way or the other based on store hours.

Spreading the sales total over two days simply costs more and will have a flat result.

The analysts will claim a huge success based on a sales number of anything greater than zero. However, the net result will be disregarded. That comes later when the real numbers – the bottom line numbers – come in.

The games that have been played by retailers over the years with their store hours for this day are simply ridiculous.

The losers in this are the family and the associate. There is no winner. It is simply spreading sales that would have occurred otherwise in a more reasonable hourly structure.

Rick Moss
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Noticed in our Retailer Twitter Feed that Kmart is being extremely active in publicizing bargains via social media. They invoke the name of DieHard and mention the layaway plan frequently in their tweets. They’ve obviously embraced the strategy of appealing to extreme bargain hunters — no dithering there, except for a few asides re: their Charity Gift Registry.

William Passodelis
Guest
8 years 6 months ago

Eric Chester is right, desperate people do desperate things. Unfortunately, Kmart continues its early morning opening on Thanksgiving, however, this year there will be no midday closing of the store so that its associates would have the opportunity for some family time. This is an awful thing. It is a bad precedent for all of retail. It is a bad precedent for working class families, their children, and the workers. Let’s be honest – the associates have no choice in this matter.

There will be desperate working class shoppers struggling to provide a more fancy Christmas to their families and children who will be there Thanksgiving morning and Kmart is counting on that. (Assuming that Kmart has enticing enough deals which I am sure they will). This is business, period.

I however think this is terrible. There are 363 other days prior to Christmas to shop and Thanksgiving and Christmas should remain closed days. This will spread if it’s actually successful enough for Kmart. This worsens the irrelevance of “Black Friday.”

Kate Blake
Guest
Kate Blake
8 years 6 months ago

I will not shop on that day. If Americans can’t respect their national holiday of Thanksgiving, what do they respect?

wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

How much benefit goes to a retailer that opens first on Thanksgiving Day?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...