A faltering economy, intense online competition, and a need to one-up their bricks-and-mortar rivals led retailers one after another to begin opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, pushing the Christmas shopping season to ever-earlier starts. But employees forced to work the holiday rather than spend time with their families launched a vocal campaign against the trend, and now the pendulum has swung back the other way: Retailers are falling over themselves to announce they'll be remaining closed this Thanksgiving Day.
The latest to say its doors would remain shut so employees could feast on turkey with family was electronics retailer hhgregg (NYSE: HGG). "We stand behind our core values and beliefs of being a family first company," said president and CEO Bob Riesbeck in a statement. "It's important to us that our associates are able to be home with their families on Thanksgiving, and we are encouraging our customers to do the same – knowing great deals will be available online, on Black Friday and through the weekend."
Considering the electronics store was open on Thanksgiving last year, it apparently didn't care quite as much then about those "core values."
Still, a number of companies have seen the light. Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS), for example, will keep the lights off for the second year in a row, and the Mall of America announced it will not open on the holiday.
Some retailers will likely still open their doors to try and squeeze every sales dollar they can out of the season. Sears Holdings (NASDAQ: SHLD) has opened its Kmart stores at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day for several years in a row now, and keeps them open right on through till late at night on Black Friday. Considering that the company is continuing to circle the drain, it will undoubtedly repeat that performance this year. Its president was quoted last year as saying his employees found working on Thanksgiving was "great fun."
A few years ago, retailers thought it imperative to expand the traditional boundaries of the Christmas selling season because in 2013, there were only 25 days between Black Friday and Christmas Day, or six fewer than the year before. This year, however, there are 30 days, which suggests that as more employees balk at spending time away from family on holidays, more retailers will start closing their doors regardless.
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Rich Duprey has no position in any stocks mentioned.