For all the grief some retailers are taking for plans to open stores on Thanksgiving night, you would think there would be more of an uproar over Kmart's decision to once again swing open its doors at 6:00 a.m. on that morning. Perhaps, the lack of protest may have something to do with the dwindling number of people who see the chain's stores as a shopping destination for the Christmas selling season.
Kmart has been opening pre-dawn on Thanksgiving going back to 2010. In a twist on this year's event, the chain plans to keep its stores open for 41 straight hours.
The chain is promoting its lease-to-own option as a means to get cash strapped consumers, who may not use the company's layaway program, into stores. Working with Whynot Leasing, LLC, Kmart touts the program as "a no- credit-required way to take home products they need or want, right away — including doorbuster items."
Brian Sozzi of Belus Capital Advisors doesn't think early hours or lease-to-own options will do much good for Kmart with stores he describes as "dreadful to visit" and "borderline unsafe." In a blog post on the company's site, Mr. Sozzi published photos of a recent visit to Kmart that demonstrate the why behind his characterization.
Sears Holdings, Kmart's parent company, has dismissed Mr. Sozzi's photos and analysis as describing an isolated case. The company, despite long-standing criticism, continues to defend its spending on store upkeep as adequate to meet the needs of its customers.
How much benefit goes to a retailer that opens first on Thanksgiving Day?