Is Thanksgiving Day Shopping a Thing of the Past?

by ShopperTrak on 11-20-15

This year, many prominent retailers — including, Barnes & Noble, T.J. Maxx, Nordstrom, DSW, and Staples— have decided to opt out of portions of the upcoming holiday weekend and lock their doors for Thanksgiving Day shopping.

In past years, when many stores have raced to open as early as possible on Thanksgiving, it can be difficult to understand why some retailers would now choose to close on such a prominent shopping day. It’s simple – not only do retailers see diminishing returns, but they believe the day should be spent giving thanks and being with family and friends.

Retailers who announce that they’re doing away with Thanksgiving Day sales are likely to discover that their message resonates positively with customers. In fact, a recent study from RichRelevance shows that 56% of Americans “hate” or “dislike” the practice of shopping on Thanksgiving, while only 12% “like or love” it. Moreover, not buying into the Thursday night hype gives employees a well-deserved break. In turn, this prevents store managers from exhausting finite staffing resources, while providing an increased ability for balancing shopper-to-associate-ratios (STARs).

Plus, if retailers do close on Thanksgiving Day, it’s likely that shoppers will show up on another day. Customers are no longer consolidating their holiday shopping into a few big-ticket days. Instead, they’ve made holiday shopping into more of a month-long phenomenon.

ShopperTrak’s promotional data supports this trend: it shows that more days in Nov. 2015 are featuring discounts than days in Nov. 2014 did. Furthermore, the 2014 average discount percentage on Black Friday (40.0%) was only slightly higher than the weekly average throughout November. Plus, as December rolled around, the discount percentage remained at nearly the same level as it was on Black Friday.

What is your take? Is Thanksgiving a day to spend with family? Or is it a day for retailers and shoppers to kick start the holiday season? Join the conversation and tweet @ShopperTrak with your thoughts. We will be following traffic and sales trends closely throughout the entire shopping weekend, so be sure to check back for updates.

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