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Will Kohl's Outpace Rivals With Its Ultra-Marathon Shopping Event?

December 10, 2013

Raising the bar for others, Kohl's last week announced plans to stay open for 108 straight hours in the days before Christmas Eve.

All of its 1,158 stores will stay open the equivalent of 4-1/2 days starting at 6 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 and running through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

"The holiday season is an eventful time for families, and Kohl's is making it easy for shoppers to wrap up their last-minute gift giving with 24-hour access to Kohl's stores right up to Christmas Eve," said Michelle Gass, Kohl's chief customer officer. "Not only does Kohl's have the hottest gifts at incredible prices, now shoppers will have the added benefit of being able to check off their lists, day or night, whenever it is most convenient for them."

Last year, Toys "R" Us opened its doors for 88 consecutive hours prior to closing at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The company hasn't announced hours for the current year. Its flagship store in Times Square was open 543 consecutive hours. This year, the Times Square store reportedly will stay open 566 straight hours.

At Macy's, most of its doors in 2012 were open continuously for 48 hours leading up to Christmas Eve. Fifty seven locations were open 72 hours and 34 stayed open 81 hours. The chain hasn't announced its holiday hours for 2013.

Outside of chains such as Walmart that feature 24-hour shopping all year, only
Macy's and Toys "R" Us employed all-day, all-night holiday shopping among major chains last year.

Many stores stoked controversy by opening on the evening hours of Thanksgiving day for the first time in 2013, including Target, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's.


Discussion Questions:

What is the likelihood that other retailers will introduce 24-hour shopping on the days before Christmas Eve? How does this affect retail sales compared to opening earlier on Thanksgiving/Black Friday?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

What is the likelihood that other retailers will introduce 24-hour shopping on the days before Christmas Eve?


The "who can be open longer arms race" will likely continue to escalate. More retailers will decide that we can't let them be open more hours than us. Soon, on January first stores will be announcing their Christmas sales and the fact "We'll be open 24 hours every day till Christmas!"

IMHO, the additional hours may generate some extra sales, but the majority of these will be in the extra "shoulder" hours rather than at 3 a.m. The difference is that Black Friday has become an event. Doing well shopping then bestows bragging right. Buying the same item for the same price at 3 a.m. a few days before Christmas doesn't.

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Steve Montgomery, President, b2b Solutions, LLC

I won't be surprised if other retailers join the 24-hour craze. But it will be remembered by shoppers that Kohl's was the first to announce this strategy.

Will it make up for compressed shopping between Black Friday and Christmas? Footfall will increase, although I'm not confident profits will match. This is a costly endeavor that will need to be supported by aggressive retail prices, making ROI tricky at best.

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Dave Wendland, Vice President, Hamacher Resource Group

The reality is that ecommerce is open 24/7/365 ... and has been for years.

There are always last minute procrastinating shoppers that need gifts faster than Amazon's shipping window. Opening longer hours just before the holidays could have appeal for some, and yield more additional sales.

The tradeoff would be the ROI on additional staffing costs. However, Walmart has found that the staffing in the wee hours of the morning is in fact minimal and can be more cost effective than closing its doors in many markets.

As far as consumer backlash, I believe that consumers are searching for quality family time on the actual holiday itself. Opening for longer hours the week before will probably not have much of a consumer consequence.

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Chris Petersen, PhD, President, Integrated Marketing Solutions

Many supermarkets tried 24 shopping to compete with drug and convenience stores and dropped the practice. Really high-volume stores can make it work as they need evening labor for restocking.

Holidays are very hectic due to the many events shoppers must attend. Short-term, having stores open 24 hours may be helpful for a small group of shoppers, but this will depend on the type of merchandise they sell. For this reason, expanding this practice will be limited.

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W. Frank Dell II, CMC, President, Dellmart & Company

Others will follow. Right or wrong, retailers equate open hours with greater sales. Once one opens they all feel they need to open to catch that one shopper who will go to the open store at 3 a.m. And with the web open 24/7, will some if not most retailers be far behind?

The real question is, does the increase in sales relate to increased profit, and at what cost?

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Mel Kleiman, President, Humetrics

I'm actually surprised that this hasn't been done more often. To me, it makes more sense to stay open longer during the days leading up to Christmas than it does to open on holidays. Having worked retail for years, the days right before Christmas are panic time for male shoppers, so if they could shop 24-7, you'd make life a little easier for a lot of people.

I'll bet it works and others follow suit next year, especially with Christmas being on a Thursday in '14.

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Lee Peterson, EVP Creative Services, WD Partners

As someone with an operations background, I question when and how the shelves, displays and racks will be restocked, when and how the aisles, fitting rooms and bathrooms will be cleaned, and whether the added labor and security costs (both in-store and parking lot) to stay open 24 hours will be able to be offset by enough sales to have made it all worthwhile.


Sure staying open around the clock for a day or two before Christmas makes sense - and it's even a tradition (sort of).

But 108 straight hours probably doesn't make any sense, except as a promotional stunt. Retailers like to catch the last-minute buyers (mostly men), and those who can't wait for delivery of an item. But 108 hours before Christmas isn't really "last minute." It's just extra work for those who are manning the stores.

That reminds me, I heard a pundit recently talking about how Christmas, and other holidays, may be coopted by the rich...at least in the sense that wealthier people, who are not punching clocks at retail stores or picking items in fulfillment houses, have the money and the leisure for Christmas. Those who are catering to them have neither. While I think this is overstated, I took the point.

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Liz Crawford, VP, Strategy & Insights, Match Drive

I'd prefer to have same day or next day delivery options and enjoy my shopping from the couch!

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Matthew Keylock, Senior Vice President, New Business Development and Partnerships, dunnhumbyUSA

Yes, of course the fearful "me-too" mentality will drive many to decide they have no choice. However, the smarter retailers will make the appropriate choice made on location by location cost/benefit analysis. Making this profitable is tricky at best and deserves full analytics, not a knee-jerk reaction.

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Mike Osorio, Senior VP Organizational Change Management, DFS Group

If the shoppers are already in the marketplace, why wouldn't you do the same as your 24 hour competitors? It's a no-brainer!

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Jerry Gelsomino, Principal, FutureBest

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