Once folks get tired over arguing politics and religion, one of the next-most contentious battles people will be fighting about over their turkey next week is the big question: “Should retail stores be open on Thanksgiving?”
As with everything, there are different sides to consider.
Many people find it abhorrent to make retail workers cut their Thanksgiving holiday short – or miss it altogether – in the name of “corporate greed.”
Some see it simply as a welcomed relief for everyone to get out of the house after a day of cooking and eating.
Others see the early, pre-Black Friday sales as a vital chance for a struggling retail industry to get an early start on the holiday shopping season at the time of year when they make the most of their money.
Some stores last year caved to naysayers and remained closed for the popular family holiday. Some even used it as a big marketing point that they would stay closed because “they care.”
This year, it looks like more stores – after a brutal year for brick-and-mortar retail when sales were being hurt by online retail – are choosing to dodge the flying turkey legs and open early.
In some cases, it even seems like a last-ditch effort for survival in a retail landscape where stores are regularly closing.
Whatever the reason it exists, and despite any bad public relations it may cause, Thanksgiving shopping is popular with consumers. The National Retail Federation surveyed shoppers and found that 20 percent, or 32 million people, planned to shop on Thanksgiving Day.
Those aren’t statistics a struggling retailer can afford to ignore.
Three years ago, the late Al Boscov famously backed his decision to open Boscov stores on Thanksgiving by showing up on the holiday and working himself.
He said he didn’t like asking workers to come in during the holiday, but he had no choice if the store was going to compete with other stores that were opening a day early for that small, but critical, holiday shopping window. So, he made the sacrifice himself.
While opening a day early may give retailers an extra bump, Thanksgiving sales still don’t beat those of Black Friday.
The NRF said Black Friday will remain the busiest day of the shopping year with 70 percent of consumers planning to shop that day. That’s 115 million people.
And those who have a soft spot for small shops also will be making their mark. The NRF said a rather substantial 43 percent of consumers are expected to shop on Saturday, with 76 percent of those 71 million shoppers saying they will do so specifically to support Small Business Saturday, an annual event spearheaded by American Express to encourage consumers to shop at smaller, independently owned retailers and service providers.
Rounding out the weekend, 21 percent expect to shop on Sunday. That’s 35 million people. And then on Cyber Monday there’ll be another big jump via online sales as 48 percent of consumers, or 78 million people, are expected to shop Cyber Monday deals.
All totaled, it’s going to be a busy weekend for shopping. Adding up the numbers shows that more than 164 million shopping trips or online purchases will be made Thanksgiving and into Cyber Monday.