When retailers and malls started opening on Thanksgiving a few years ago, I wrote that despite some blowback, consumers would determine whether the trend would last.
While consumers generally voted favorably enough with their feet and wallets to lend some merit to the idea of opening stores on Thanksgiving, often in early evening, as a counter to the 365/24/7 access of e-commerce, the day did not result in the big haul many expected.
Then restrictions and sensibilities rising from the pandemic caused most retailers to keep their stores closed last Thanksgiving. What would Thanksgiving 2021 bring with the retail marketplace, despite continuing virus caution and labor shortages, at full speed ahead of the holidays?
Some retailers, including supermarkets, drug stores and general merchants who sell “essentials,” will remain open on Thanksgiving. That’s understandable. However, many more big chains and smaller operators have decided to keep stores closed in advance of an early Black Friday reopening. Target put an exclamation point on the matter this week by announcing it would never again open stores on Thanksgiving.
Is it a recommitment by such businesses to the virtue of time spent with family and friends on such an important holiday, especially at a time when such celebratory gatherings seem more precious than ever? Is it an acknowledgement that a single day closed during a holiday shopping season that now heats up long before Thanksgiving — and with nearly every brick-and-mortar operator always open online — is not such a competitive disadvantage after all? Is it just the right thing to do?
Yes to all, perhaps.
Will it last? We’ll see. It could only take one major retailer electing to reopen stores on Thanksgiving a year from now for others to follow, however reluctantly. My hope is there will be a resolute consensus to keep stores closed during Thanksgivings to come.
At a time when people are again delighting in the freedom to get out and shop, it will be nice to be able to stay in on their own terms — to relax, watch football, eat, drink and, most of all, enjoy the company.
And to reflect on what it really means to be thankful.
On behalf of the HomePage News team, Happy Thanksgiving.