News & Trends

Thanksgiving sales divide retailers

Posted by: Jen Maisch Jen Maisch
on November 23, 2015

As the 2015 holiday shopping season rapidly approaches, a hot topic of conversation remains when retailers are opening their doors for their Black Friday sales. Collectively called the “Black Friday/Christmas Creep,” stores in the past have opened as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving (or 7 a.m. Thanksgiving morning in the case of Dollar General) to give shoppers a head start on their holiday wish lists.

According to JLL’s 2015 Retailer Holiday Survey, one-third of retailers surveyed will continue to open their doors early on Thanksgiving Day this year. Additional findings show that approximately 80 percent of national retail survey respondents will earn up to 40 percent of their total holiday sales during Thanksgiving weekend. Wal-Mart will still be opening its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, but instead of offering hourly deals like last year, they are offering the same sales and discounts both in-store and online to tie together their omni-channel shopping efforts. Target is also planning to open its doors at 6 p.m. the night of Thanksgiving.

But not all retailers are following suit. Recently Nordstrom created a stir when they promised that their Christmas decorations won’t be displayed until Black Friday so employees and customers can enjoy “celebrating one holiday at a time.” Sporting goods store REI made headlines when they announced that they will be closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday so their employees can enjoy the holiday and #optoutside. DSW, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and dozens of other national retailers will also be closed on Thanksgiving to allow employees to enjoy the holiday with their families. For the first time ever, H&M will close its U.S. branches on Thanksgiving. According to some retail analysts, one reason that stores like Marshalls and Staples are closed on Thanksgiving is due to the fact that they offer discounts all year, so sales and deep cuts are not as rare for the brands as other retailers.

Another new trend possibly influencing shopper behavior this Black Friday: Mobile shopping. This year, 51 percent of Thanksgiving online shopping is expected to be completed on a mobile device, instead of a PC. This is the first time that mobile shopping will surpass standard computer online shopping, as we’re now past the mobile “Tipping Point.” More consumers own mobile phones than desktops and retailers are optimizing their mobile marketing strategy as a result. Surprisingly, analyses of shopping trends are also finding that consumers will shop from their mobile phones while in stores! These reports and early forecasts prove that retailers implementing an omni-channel strategy is more important than ever to compete for sales.

Are you planning on braving the Thanksgiving crowds? Let us know in the comments.


I am happy to see that some of the national retailers are regaining their sensibilities and turning back the clock by couple of years by giving the Thanksgiving holiday back to their employees and their shoppers who may have otherwise abandoned early their rare annual quality time with their extended families and other important personal relationships. I believe that we will see more retailers jumping on the Thanksgiving store closure bandwagon as time goes on and instead be more creative in competing their fair share of sales during normal holiday business hours.

Daryl Penn

November 25, 2015

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