Will family values resonate this Thanksgiving?

Discussion
Nov 10, 2014

Last week, a heap of retailers joined Macy’s and Kohl’s in announcing earlier Thanksgiving openings. At the same time, family value statements continued to roll out from others that have chosen to stay closed on the holiday.

"As a family-oriented store, it is important for our associates to be able to spend the holiday with family," said Rodney Faldyn, Academy Sports + Outdoors’ president and CEO, in a press release.

Costco earlier last month said its employees "deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families." Dillard’s explained that its decision was part of its "longstanding tradition of honoring of our customers’ and associates’ time with family."

GameStop chose to stay dark "out of respect for our store associates and their families and friends. We believe it’s the right decision not only for our employees, but also for our customers. Enjoy this time with your loved ones and we’ll see you on Black Friday."

Others resisting Thanksgiving openings are Nordstrom, Burlington, REI, Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx, BJ’s and Sam’s Club.

Among the Thanksgiving crowd so far, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Sears and Staples are opening at 6 p.m., back from 8 p.m. last year. J.C. Penney will open at 5, compared to 8:00 p.m. in 2013. Toys "R" Us will open at 5 p.m., same as last year.

Those opening on the holiday claim customers want to shop earlier. Said Steven Tanger, CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, which is opening at 6 p.m., "Our customers are increasingly requesting to shop early for the best deals and our retail partners are eager to accommodate this new family tradition."

Stores are also competing against a major online shopping day, and Macy broke Black Friday weekend records last year in opening on Thanksgiving for the first time. Macy’s also expects most employees working will be volunteers and internal feedback found many wanted to work the holiday to get Black Friday off and appreciate the time-and-a-half pay.

An Accenture survey conducted in September found that those planning to shop on Thanksgiving Day and evening rose to 45 percent this year, up from 38 percent last year. Of those consumers planning to shop on the holiday, 47 percent planned to visit a physical store between 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and 5 a.m. on Black Friday. Fewer shoppers compared to last year (32 percent versus 41 percent) said that interfering with family time was a reason to not shop in a physical store on Thanksgiving.

A Retailmenot survey conducted in October found 22 percent of consumers felt retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day gives people "something fun to do" on the holiday.

Will stores not opening on Thanksgiving disappoint more shoppers who want to shop than please those wanting to preserve the holiday? What goodwill benefit will stores gain from staying closed?

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25 Comments on "Will family values resonate this Thanksgiving?"


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Frank Riso
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I will do everything I can to shop at the stores that did stay dark on Thanksgiving. It is a day to be with family, with no other obligations but to enjoy time with loved ones. Many stores in our malls are posting signs indicating that they will be closed so that their associates can be with their families and I do hope they will be rewarded for it. Midnight openings are OK for all the crazies, but give everyone the time to be with family.

Bob Phibbs
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I think the headline implies “family values,” which I would equate with a polarizing political movement.

I think it is national values, as I wrote in this post: Retailers: It’s Called Thanksgiving, Not Thanksgetting.

You can try to justify this any way you want: “Omni-channel employees appreciate the money,” etc. But you can’t tell me a retailer is gaining market share. They are simply rearranging when the shoppers would have purchased.

I firmly believe retailers like Nordstrom and Costco have their priorities in line with most Americans. And that’s not a blue state/red state kind of thing.

Ian Percy
Guest
7 years 6 months ago
The title of this item is, “Will family values resonate this Thanksgiving?” No matter what happens regarding store openings or closings over Thanksgiving, that store’s values will ALWAYS dictate behavior. A retailer can protest that it’s customer or market pressure that dictates behavior but that’s just a way to avoid the truth. We always act according to our values. If money wins out over family time, there’s your values on display for all to see. Just admit it and make all you can. On the other hand if time with your family wins out, then throw yourself into that and don’t give a thought to what business you’re passing up. IMHO you’ve made the best deal—and I say that as someone who wishes he’d done so years ago. It’s like “motivation.” We all do precisely what we are motivated to do. There is no such thing as not being “motivated.” A couch potato is motivated to be a couch potato because it rewards him or her more than doing something else. The fact that you… Read more »
David Biernbaum
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Listen, here is the bottom line. Retailers are in business to make a profit. The need is dictated by the market. If being open on Thanksgiving is what is needed to be in business, stay in business and not to lose market share to the competition, then being open on Thanksgiving is what some retailers need to do. On the other hand retailers should do everything possible, in good conscience, to compensate employees to the best of their abilities, and to bring in a scheduler to make his or her best efforts to schedule volunteers first before requiring others to be at work.

Dick Seesel
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

The relevance of earlier (and earlier) openings will fade as more stores provide ways for shoppers to “buy online, pick up in store” in the future. (Not to mention, the continued growth of e-commerce and m-commerce to begin with.) But for now the stores racing to beat the clock are just gearing up their BOPIS efforts. As long as there is peer pressure to open earlier and earlier, we will inevitably see stores open all day on Thanksgiving in the near future.

The stores choosing to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day are making a more vocal effort this year to align their decision with their brand. Costco has always led the way, since they also close on several Federal holidays throughout the year, but it’s significant that stores across the retail spectrum—from Dillard’s and Nordstrom to T.J. Maxx to big-box stores—are keeping them company.

Max Goldberg
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I salute the stores that will not open on Thanksgiving, but fear that they are simply holding back the inevitable tide. With so many retailers advertising Black Friday pricing in early November, it will be interesting to see what products are in stores and how those products are priced come the real Black Friday.

Tony Orlando
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

The goodwill benefit is for the employees who don’t have to work, as I’m sure they appreciate the gesture from their employers. Consumers for the most part could care less, as the shopping frenzy never ends. Just look at Black Friday, with fights breaking out over TVs and iPhone crazies camping out to save $50. I refuse to open, but I don’t matter in the big picture anyway.

My family does not go out on Black Friday, unless it is about 30 minutes to closing to check out something my wife might want, and for the retailers who choose to open early on Thanksgiving, I have no issues with it, as long as it is a voluntary day for the employees to choose to work.

Retailing is fast paced and is only going to get crazier as the years go on, so buckle up and watch the deals fly out of the stores, as consumers want DEEP DISCOUNTS!

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I’m hoping that stores not opening on Thanksgiving benefit from that fact, and I hope more of them publicly advertise that they won’t be open. And I would question those statements that shoppers want stores to be open on Thanksgiving. It’s easy to word a survey question to get the yes answer. The important question is, if nobody was open on Thanksgiving, would you be more or less likely to shop store “X” on Black Friday?

Tom Redd
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

In this case the heck with the shoppers. Many retailers know that their associates are vital to their ongoing life. Others still think that associates are just employees that stand in the stores. We are a country that is losing more and more in family values to technology and social tool addiction. Maybe retail leaders could step back and re-think how important Thanksgiving is to the family structure.

Preserve some core elements of what makes us different from computers.

Kevin Graff
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Many of the best and most profitable companies put their employees ahead of their customers and shareholders. Look after your employees well and they’ll look after your customers well too.

To that end, staying closed on Thanksgiving is about valuing your employees and doing right by them. The goodwill earned is with your employees—and maybe a few customers too.

Nikki Baird
Guest
Nikki Baird
7 years 6 months ago

I’m sorry, but I just don’t believe that a retailer who opens at 6 p.m. on Thursday is going to make more money than one that opens on Friday that weekend. The cost vs. traffic gains just don’t justify it. And when you add in that The Wall Street Journal just posted an article informing shoppers that the best deals are found on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, it is just yet more proof that the whole Black Friday weekend is an anachronism driven by the old store model, not the new omni-channel one.

For Pete’s sake, even if I did want to avoid my family, why would I need to rub shoulders with any number of strangers on Thanksgiving Day? I can ignore them just as easily on the couch while I buy it online.

Paula Rosenblum
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Let’s be realistic. There is no evidence that a Thanksgiving Day opening adds incremental sales to the season. None. All it does is move them around.

So from a purely financial/clinical perspective, why spend the HVAC and payroll for a day that adds no real incremental value?

While I’ve be pretty open about not liking Thanksgiving openings for family values reasons (my version of family values, not the co-opted one), I also firmly believe it is a pointless exercise.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

(My comment from Oct. 2013) It isn’t smart. It isn’t dumb. It is business. If enough shoppers are willing to go, open the doors! The idea that this is still some Norman Rockwell holiday has passed decades ago.

The bigger Thanksgiving Day decision is whether to watch 12 hours of NFL or NCAA football. The ratings will suggest there are few people spending much time giving thanks.

Zel Bianco
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Two of the articles this morning (“What does Amazon Echo have to do with shopping?” And “Will family values resonate this Thanksgiving?”) seem to be getting at the same issue. Our culture is changing rapidly. While many of us talk about the importance of family time on Thanksgiving and privacy from technology, people are still voting with their actions.

If stores can gain market share on Thanksgiving by staying open most will stay open. If Amazon can convince people to buy the Echo and let them further into their lives and minds they will take advantage of the opportunity. We cannot deny the influence of technology and consumerism on our culture. They have given us many advantages, provide millions of jobs and comforts and yet they have a cost. Going forward we all have to decide what we are willing to give up in order to continue to reap these benefits. It is a fascinating time to be involved in both technology and CPG.

Bill Davis
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I don’t think most consumers will be adversely impacted because a store is closed for a day 26 days before Christmas. Their website is open if anyone really needs to shop at their store. The goodwill they generate will be from their employees getting to spend one of the major holidays with their families and friends as opposed to having to work.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Two factors are driving this issue. First is the substantial increase in single-person households and two non-related person households. Not everyone can go home for Thanksgiving so their options are to work or shop. The second issue is the economy. The average income for the middle class continues to decline. To accommodate this issue, consumer are spreading out Christmas purchases over a longer time period. The pool of consumers that have nothing else to do on Thanksgiving is growing, but it is still a small segment of the economy. Most retailers will not get extra credit from consumers for closing, but it will make employees happy. Retailer that close will not lose much in sales. It is always a good idea to give employees time off, so I vote for closing.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
7 years 6 months ago

There is real goodwill benefit to stores being closed on Thanksgiving—the great American holiday in which all of us, regardless of creed or color or religion or citizenship status can find common ground and share together in thanks for our many blessings. I just spent the weekend with an old friend whose entire Thanksgiving feast and family get-together has to be relocated to Friday because one of the principal breadwinners in the next generation has to work on Thanksgiving day. (Yes, at one of the stores mentioned in this thread.)

George-Marie Glover
Guest
George-Marie Glover
7 years 6 months ago

…retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day gives people “something fun to do” on the holiday.

I must be enormously blessed in knowing that I have no need for “something fun to do” outside the wonderful company of my friends and family on Thanksgiving.

What a sad commentary that so many others lack something fun to do outside of going to the mall. While you’re out seeking deals, I’ll be enjoying a delicious meal, lively conversation with lots of laughter, and expressing my genuine thanks for the bounty of family, friends and food we have in this country.

David Livingston
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

In my opinion, stores not opening on Thanksgiving has nothing to do with goodwill or family values. Stores that choose not to open are usually very successful retailers that simply are not that desperate. They will succeed despite their store hours or days they are open or closed. These stores will naturally milk the PR they get for not opening. But the bottom line is, they are so good, they don’t have to.

From what I see, the worst of the worst opens first, but usually disappoints by January 31st. When you are a winning retailer you can open and close when you want and still be successful.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

It continues to become more ludicrous as each Thanksgiving comes. Opening early and saying the customers want it is a coverup for greed. There is no reason employees “volunteer” to work early other than being forced. Come on folks: let’s get mad as hell and say we aren’t going to put up with this any longer.

Bryan Pearson
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Here’s a preview of the latest LoyaltyOne research (being released tomorrow) that shows there are three kinds of Americans on Thanksgiving Day:

  • 50% who say all-day shopping hours on Thanksgiving Day are a bad idea that detracts from the traditional celebration
  • 33% who say stores being open all day Thanksgiving is a great idea that provides more time for holiday gift shopping
  • 17% who can’t make up their mind.

Arguably, there’s a fourth category, the 27% who say that beyond merely being supportive of the idea of extended store hours on Thanksgiving, they would actually take advantage of the opportunity and make it a day of shopping on Thanksgiving.

In the all-important Millennials demographic (age 18-34), attitudes about stores being open all day on Thanksgiving shift dramatically compared to the general population. No less than 50% of consumers age 18-24 say all-day shopping on Thanksgiving is a great idea. That support dropped only slightly to 48% in the 25-34 year-old age group.

Bill Hanifin
Guest
7 years 6 months ago
I am posting my comment with my brain, not my heart. Seeing the statistics that “Fewer shoppers … said that interfering with family time was a reason to not shop in a physical store on Thanksgiving” and that “A Retailmenot survey … found 22 percent of consumers felt retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day gives people “something fun to do” on the holiday,” it should register that society is changing. Rather than anticipate great brand benefit for chains opting to close on Thanksgiving day, those staying dark might actually be considered “annoying” by a growing group of consumers. Considering that not all family members are interested in watching 6+ hours of football, who’s to say what’s worse, watching football or shopping all day on Thanksgiving? A bigger consideration may be the impact of opening on this holiday for store employees. If in fact there are enough willing volunteers who want that time and a half pay, then opening on the holiday is humane for employees. If the volunteer angle is overplayed and store managers use… Read more »
Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

Family values is a misnomer. It’s really about personal values, convenience and properly leveraging online shopping.

The one-day Thanksgiving deals will shift online.

Jerry Gelsomino
Guest
7 years 6 months ago

I would expect lots of family arguments starting with, “I can’t believe you’re going out shopping for Christmas today!”

Alan Cooper
Guest
Alan Cooper
7 years 6 months ago

Bravo to those retailers upholding an American tradition and staying closed on Thanksgiving. Nothing worse for employee morale than to make a late announcement about staying open. If the businesses who are staying open are doing it due to the creeping percentages of immigrants and transplanted Americans who are not beholden to this tradition, then they are doing it for the wrong reason.

If the businesses are staying open for pure greed, then those that are closed are winning the respect of more consumers. Either way, online shopping and its promotions will eventually make the concept of pre-, post- and actual Black Friday moot.

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