11/22/2016 Molly Moseley

Closed on Thanksgiving: The newest retail trend supports workers and the bottom line

About five years ago it seemed retailers left and right were announcing earlier openings that extended to Thanksgiving Day. They wanted to grab an extra slice of that profit pie by luring in shoppers the day prior to the big Black Friday rush. Images of long lines danced in their heads, but much like actual sugar plums, the idea was more appealing than the reality.

Fast-forward to today. Sure, the standard big-box retailers are still planning to open at some point during Thanksgiving, but malls, chains and independent stores have announced full Thanksgiving closures at higher rates than in the recent past.

Why the change of heart? There are a few big reasons that can’t be ignored.

First, despite the potential bargains, people are shopping less on Thanksgiving Day than before. According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving Day saw 44.8 million adults shop in 2013, 43.1 million in 2014, and 34.6 million in 2015. This year, experts predict declines once again, partly due, no doubt, to more people shopping deals online from the comfort of their home.

Forbes lists 52 top retailers who are closed on Thanksgiving, including Nordstrom, Marshalls and Costco. Mall of America (just a short drive from the LinkUp offices) is closed on Thanksgiving, but ultimately it’s up to store owners at the mall to decide whether they will open.

MOA’s much talked about move is estimated to give approximately 1,200 employees the day off, which they can spend with family and friends, notes CNN Money. That’s highly appealing not only to the workers, but also to consumers.

That brings us to the second reason companies are changing their ways: Conscientious shoppers are seeking socially responsible companies at which to spend their holiday dollars. Companies that “have heart” are appealing across generations, from baby boomers who value the tradition of Thanksgiving, to millennials who want to confidently buy from ethical companies.

Finally, the last (and, in my opinion, most compelling) reason to close on Thanksgiving is that it’s doing right by employees. Giving staff time off is important, particularly during the year-end period when employees often pull overtime regularly. One day off to unwind can mean improved productivity and morale for the rest of the holiday season, because employees believe the employer truly cares about their well-being. What’s more, employees will remember the goodwill long after the holidays are over.

And those socially conscious shoppers? They remember, too. I personally have several friends and relatives that won’t shop at certain stores year-round based on whether they are open on Thanksgiving. That’s just how important it is to them. It’s putting people above dollars for a day, and that’s what leaves the lasting impression. The irony seems to be that those stores are ultimately getting more of those dollars, so it’s a win-win for everyone.