Mall of America closed for Thanksgiving: Will big box stores follow suit?

Packed to the brim with every kind of store you can imagine, the Mall of America is not the kind of place you'd expect to choose family values over making a profit.

Jim Mone/AP/File
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Mall of America, the nation’s largest shopping mall, says that it will be closed on Thanksgiving in 2016. The center has been open on the holiday since 2012 and could inspire other shopping malls or stores to follow suit. The mall will re-open at 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Packed to the brim with every kind of store you can imagine, the Mall of America is not the kind of place you'd expect to choose family values over making a profit. But this year, the Mall of America is taking a bold stance, announcing plans to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, and put the "Friday" back in Black Friday.

While stores inside the mall will have the option to stay open on Thanksgiving, a report by the Minneapolis Star Tribune says mall officials don't expect many businesses to do so.

"We’ve been talking about this for months, looking at the numbers, looking at the pros and the cons," said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of marketing and business development at the Mall of America. "We’re excited to give this day back to our employees so they can celebrate with their families ... and bring that special magic back to Black Friday."

I grew up the Twin Cities, so a good chunk of my youth was spent wandering aimlessly around the vast shrine to consumer culture that is the Mall of America. If you've never been there, it's worth a trip for the theme park alone, but shopping was always my main motivation. So I was pretty shocked by this announcement.

While it's likely that the mall doesn't see much of a profit from staying open on Thanksgiving, it's still a striking move. If the Mall of America, the biggest shopping center in the country, is saying no to Thanksgiving hours, does this mean that other brands will follow suit?

We've been tracking Black Friday store hours since 2007, and 2015 was the first year we actually saw a pushback from major retailers on Thanksgiving hours. As you can see from the graph below, Black "Friday" sales have been slowly but surely encroaching on Thanksgiving dinnertime for the past several years. In 2014, all the major retailers we tracked for this study were open by 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

But last year, Staples decided to push its sale back to early Friday morning hours, and this move brought the average Black Friday sale's opening time down from 5:43 p.m. in 2014, to 7:05 p.m. in 2015. In addition to this, outdoor supply retailer REImade a bold statement by closing on both Thanksgiving AND Black Friday and giving employees two days of paid vacation, and we tallied up a list of 65 other retailers whose Black Friday sales DID NOT start on Thanksgiving Day. These retailers included big names like NordstromHome DepotJo-Ann Fabric and IKEA, and it's our personal dream that, in 2016, more of Black Friday's heavy hitters, like Target orWalmart, might surprise everyone by disavowing Thanksgiving hours.

Is that likely to happen? Probably not. But we also don't expect to see any major retailers opening any earlier than last year, either. We predict all the major Black Friday retailers will likely opt to keep their 2015 hours this year, but we could be in for some Black Friday surprises in the coming months!

This article first appeared in Brad's Deals

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