Why are Retailers Opting to Stay Closed on Thanksgiving Day This Year?


For many, Thanksgiving used to spark memories of turkey, side dishes, family, football and lots of napping. With retailers having set days they legally need to provide off for their staff, Thanksgiving was never on the docket to be infringed upon. That is, until about 20 years ago, when the opening times for Black Friday kept creeping back, hour by hour, until finally, they hit the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving evening.

Black Friday has long-since been associated with door-busting discounts and near-mass hysteria, however with never-ending options for consumers to wait out the craziness in favor of making their purchases online, the frenzy has cooled down considerably. That may be the reason why this year, many retailers are choosing to stay closed on Thanksgiving.

How did Thanksgiving become just a precursor to Black Friday?

Over time, the drive for retailers to open earlier, often to large waiting crowds, kept going until it eventually broke the barrier, cutting directly into the holiday, with stores opening as early as 12pm on Thanksgiving Day. Understandably, staff became increasingly dissatisfied, and even consumers began to oppose the fact that a holiday that had always been known for family time had simply become an extension of a frenzied shopping day. Eventually, Cyber Monday increased in popularity, with many retailers extending their Black Friday sales to well before (and past) Thanksgiving weekend (due to dismal sales). The unfair requirement for staffers to miss one of their few legal holidays began  resonating past the employees themselves, past consumers, right up to the heads of these corporate chain. It seems the retail industry began to collectively ask, “Was all of this extra time spent open, with prices slashed so low all really worth it?”

The numbers don’t lie

After crunching the numbers, the appeal began to deflate for brick and mortar stores. And understandably so. For one, keeping a store open for almost 24 hours does mean keeping the lights on, not to mention security staff, and of course, regular staff, many of whom are on holiday or over-time pay. With online shopping options in full swing, gas prices still too high and a major push back from employees and consumers alike, these factors all contributed to Black Friday losing its crown as the biggest shopping day of the year.

Cyber Monday levels the field

After comparing the two days, many retailers found that sales from Black Friday and Cyber Mondays were, in fact, quite close, with sales from Cyber Monday gaining at breakneck speed. In 2015, Cyber Monday sales surpassed $3 billion and are projected to almost double this year. According to the National Retail Federation, 103 million people shopped online over the Thanksgiving weekend, just beating out the 102 million that shopped in a physical store. As retailers mull over this new information, some of them have already begun changing their strategies altogether, giving Thanksgiving Day back to their employers and customers, while also saving valuable company money. For many, it’s a no-brainer – online shopping costs much less to maintain, and brings in huge profits.

As it stands, the trend seems to be shifting back towards keeping employees home with their families, while consumers looking for Black Friday sales are encouraged to do it in their pyjamas on Thanksgiving Day from home, online.


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