Retailers Closing on Thanksgiving Is Good News for Small Business

Want some good news for the holidays? Small business owners should be happy to hear that many major retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving Day — a trend that could help level the playing field between large and small retailers that typically close their doors on Thanksgiving Day to be with their families.

Closed on Thanksgiving?

There are lots of factors to consider when deciding whether to close your doors on Thanksgiving Day. Of course, if you feel strongly that you want to spend the day with your family, that’s your decision and you’re definitely not alone. But another important factor in the decision is how your customers feel.

What Do Consumers Think About Shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

Overall, 52% of respondents in a survey last year by Morning Consult opposed stores opening for shopping on Thanksgiving Day. But the details are more nuanced, as different generations have different views on the matter.

Here’s how it breaks down by age: 53% of Generation Z (defined in the survey as age 18 to 21), 39% of millennials (age 22 to 37) 30% of Generation X (age 38 to 55) and 23% of baby boomers (age 54 and up) support retailers staying open on Thanksgiving Day. So, if your primary customers are Generation Z, many of whom prefer shopping in physical stores to online shopping, you may want to stay open at least part of the day.

Baby Boomers Like Stores Being Closed on Thanksgiving

On the other hand, if your customers are mostly baby boomers, know that 38% of them “strongly oppose” stores being open on Thanksgiving. Women are also more likely to oppose stores being open on Thanksgiving: 58% of them are against the practice.

Staying open on Thanksgiving can affect your sales not only now, but also into the future. Last year, consumers threatened to boycott many major chains that were open on Thanksgiving Day. Half the adults in the Morning Consult survey say they would be more likely to visit a store in the future if it actively stayed closed on Thanksgiving.

The primary reason consumers want stores to close: Three-quarters believe Thanksgiving is a day to spend time with family and friends, and 63% believe employees shouldn’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day. About half say Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful, rather than to shop, and 53% say Thanksgiving is a day of rest (clearly, none of those people have ever hosted a Thanksgiving dinner before).

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What Should Your Small Business Do?

This isn’t an open-and-shut decision, and there are lots of alternatives to consider. For example, what is your own family’s tradition? If your store is family-owned and your employees are members of your family, you might decide to eat Thanksgiving dinner earlier in the day, relax a bit and then open the store in the evening.

You could also open later in the evening, such as 9 or 10 p.m. Many holiday shoppers enjoy heading out for late-night shopping on Thanksgiving night; for some families, this has become as much a tradition as getting up at dawn for Black Friday is for others.

Be sure to talk to your employees to see how they feel. You may have some employees who don’t have any Thanksgiving plans and would be happy to have something to do with their day. Others may be willing to trade part of their Thanksgiving Day for the chance to earn holiday wages.

If you close your store on Thanksgiving Day, be sure to let your customers know about it in advance. You don’t want them to show up ready to spend, only to find a closed sign — that will really hurt your brand. Use email marketing, social media and your website to announce you will be closed for the day.

Incorporate your decision to close on Thanksgiving into your marketing. People are passionate about this issue, so take a stand! Share that you’re closing because you believe Thanksgiving is a day to be with family and friends, a day to be thankful, you want to give your employees the day off, or all of the above. Then promote all the great products and deals you’ll have the rest of Black Friday weekend.

What Stores Are Closed on Thanksgiving Day?

Will your nearby competitors be open or closed? This should also be a factor in your decision. RetailMeNot tracks which stores will be open or closed on Thanksgiving Day and has published the following list of stores confirmed to be closed on Thanksgiving:

  • Army and Air Force Exchange Service
  • Academy Sports and Outdoors
  • Ace Hardware
  • BJ’s (will open for Black Friday at 7 a.m.)
  • Bloomingdale’s
  • The Container Store
  • Costco
  • Crate & Barrel
  • Guitar Center
  • H&M
  • Half Price Books
  • Harbor Freight
  • Hobby Lobby (will open for Black Friday at 8 a.m.)
  • Home Depot
  • HomeGoods (will open for Black Friday at 7 a.m.)
  • IKEA
  • Lowe’s (will open for Black Friday at 6 a.m.)
  • Marshalls (will open for Black Friday at 7 a.m.)
  • Mattress Firm
  • Office Depot/OfficeMax
  • Patagonia
  • Petco (open for Black Friday at 8 a.m.)
  • PetSmart
  • Pier 1
  • REI (closed on Black Friday as well for #OptOutside)
  • Sam’s Club
  • Sierra Trading Post (will open for Black Friday at 7 a.m.)
  • Stein Mart
  • TJ Maxx (will open for Black Friday at 7 a.m.)
  • True Value
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Based on what they’ve done in the past, RetailMeNot also predicts the following stores will close on Thanksgiving:

  • Barnes & Noble
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Cost Plus World Market
  • Dillard’s
  • Nordstrom
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • AT&T
  • Sur La Table
  • Staples

Stores Likely to be Open Thanksgiving Day

Based on prior years, RetailMeNot predicts these retailers will probably be open on Thanksgiving:

  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Best Buy
  • Big Lots
  • GameStop
  • JCPenney
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • Old Navy
  • Sears
  • Target
  • Walmart

If your competitors are staying open on Thanksgiving Day, opening your doors can give you a chance to capture some of that business. But depending on your target customer base, closing your doors could also differentiate your business, and by promoting your belief in the importance of the holiday, you could endear your business to customers.

There’s also a third option: if you sell products online, focus your marketing efforts on your website rather than your store. Last year, Americans spent $3.7 billion online on Thanksgiving Day — an increase of 28% from 2017, according to MarketWatch.

Just make sure your website is set up for mobile shopping. Last year, smartphones drove more than half (54.4%) of online retail traffic, Barron’s reported.

Will you close on Thanksgiving Day or stay open? The choice is up to you.


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