As more and more stores have begun opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, about 30 national retailers have decided to buck the trend and remain closed for the holiday. They're also employing some clever marketing, obliquely shaming the "Thanksgiving Grinches" that remain open.
The decision regarding whether stores should open or remain closed on the holiday preceding Black Friday, one of the most important days of the year in retail, has escalated into a full-out "War on Thanksgiving." On one side, advocates argue that consumers enjoy extra time and flexible scheduling in their holiday shopping, and that retailers risk conceding sales to competitors who remain open on Thanksgiving if they keep their doors closed.
Others say that Thanksgiving is a sacred holiday and that employees should get the day off to spend with family. They argue that Thanksgiving sales don't actually boost overall holiday sales.
By and large, the stores that have decided to open on the holiday say they are responding to customer demand and that pressure from competitors necessitates their early openings.
Interestingly, Radio Shack had decided to stay closed, then changed its position and decided to open on Thanksgiving Day. In a company memo, it explained its decision. "Last year, we left a lot of opportunity on the table on Thanksgiving and Black Friday because of our reduced opening hours."
Of course, retailers didn't used to open their doors on Thanksgiving. The practice began just a couple of years ago when retailers like Macy's and Best Buy began opening their doors Thursday evening to get a leg up on Black Friday sales.
Consumers, presumably ready for some post-turkey exercise, leapt at the chance to get a head start on holiday shopping.
Two separate surveys, from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Accenture, indicate as much. The surveys found that nearly half of US consumers plan to shop in some capacity (either at physical stores or online) on Thanksgiving.
Entire shopping centers are taking notice, with one mall in upstate New York opening its doors for business at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day and fining tenants who don't open.
Fed up with Thanksgiving openings encroaching on a holiday that centers around gratitude and being with family, some retailers and consumers have begun to fight back.
More than two dozen national chain stores have publicly and proudly announced their decision to remain closed on Thursday. Among those that have so far said they will close are Costco, DSW, Home Depot, Lowe's, Marshalls, Nordstrom, and TJ Maxx. (See full list below.)
Taking note of the sizable chunk of consumers who dislike the Thanksgiving Day sales trend, the retailers have released statements trumpeting their decision and stealthily shaming their competitors that have chosen to open.
"We consider ourselves an associate-friendly company," Marshalls told the Huffington Post in a statement.
"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," Costco told the Huffington Post in a statement.
"We just like the idea of celebrating one holiday at a time," Nordstrom told Mental Floss.
So do at least some American consumers, it seems. An October study by retail personalization engine RichRelevance shows a combined 62 percent of Americans "dislike" or “hate” the practice of shopping on the holiday, while a mere 12 percent “like or love” the trend of Thanksgiving Day openings.
In fact, so passionate are anti-Thanksgiving shoppers they've launched at least two Facebook pages, "Boycott Black Thursday," and "Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day," which publishes "naughty" and "nice" lists of retailers that will and won't be open on the holiday, respectively.
Why, then, are stores opening on Thanksgiving Day?
"Macy’s and the rest of the mall stalwarts feel forced to open earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving because that’s what the competition is doing—and by not opening on Thanksgiving, a store is essentially conceding some chunk of sales to the competition," Time reports.
In fact, that line of thinking may be flawed, it suggests.
"[T]here’s a good argument to be made that Thanksgiving store hours don’t actually boost a retailer’s overall holiday sales," it continued. "Rather, sales on the holiday simply displace sales that would otherwise have been rung up on Black Friday or later in the season."
"Thursday is simply selling the stuff at the expense of Black Friday," Bill Martin, the founder of ShopperTrak, a company that monitors shopping trends in malls, told MarketWatch.
Regardless, retailers have taken their sides in the "War on Thanksgiving" and are ready to battle for consumers' loyalty and dollars.
So which retailers have a made a point to remain closed on Thanksgiving Day? Here are 30 and counting:
Barnes & Noble
Bed, Bath and Beyond
BJ’s Wholesale Club
Burlington Coat Factory
Crate & Barrel
Jo Ann Fabrics
Sierra Trading Post
Sur La Table