24-Hour Christmas Shopping
After midnight, we’re gonna let it all hang out — J.J. Cale
A handful of major U.S. chains stayed open round the clock last week to chase down last-minute procrastinators.
Macy’s kept 14 of its stores open for 83 consecutive hours through 6 p.m. Saturday. An additional 27 stayed open until 2 a.m. last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday — up from nine that operated under “extended hours” last year. On Christmas Eve, many locations extended hours further by closing at midnight with a few open as late as 2:00 a.m Christmas morning.
“Our 24-hour stores have been a hit with holiday shoppers for the past five years,” Ron Klein, chief stores officer at Macy’s Inc., said in a statement.
Macy’s was among the chains that claimed to have benefited over Thanksgiving weekend by pulling back Black Friday openings to midnight.
Toys ‘R’ Us nationwide began an all-day-all-night marathon last Tuesday that continued until 10 p.m. Christmas Eve — a day longer than last year’s toy-shopping marathon.
Some Old Navy stores in Manhattan were open consecutive days last week while JC Penney pulled an all-nighter on Dec. 23. Sports Authority and Bealls also held 24-hour shopping sprees just before the big day for the first time.
Other stores, such as Kohl’s, instead chose to extend hours until midnight last week, and stayed open later than typical on Christmas Eve. Both Sears and Target were open until 11:00 p.m. on Dec. 24. Comparatively early closings included Walmart, closing at 8:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and Best Buy, 5:00 p.m.
The extended hours comes amid data from ShopperTrak indicating five of the season’s top 10 sales days occur from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24. Brick & mortars also pick up a host of cyber shoppers in the final days since online orders at a certain point can’t be delivered on time.
A Reuters article found sparse crowds in the wee hours of the morning in some 24-hour New York City stores but also found that both shoppers and employees favored the less chaotic holiday shopping environment. Trutina Financial Chief Investment Officer Patty Edwards told Reuters the big benefit for retailers from all-night-openings was the media attention.
Still, Justin Lahart, economics reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was among those who wondered whether retailer’s ongoing shift towards the “never-close direction” was healthy for the industry.
“The question is, to what effect?” wrote Mr. Lahart in the newspaper’s Overheard blog. “Consumer spending is essentially a zero-sum game — people spend what they spend, and that’s that. If all stores decide to stay open 24/7 for the holidays, all they are likely to get is disgruntled employees and higher operating costs. That’s no way to spread the holiday cheer.”
- Retailers’ graveyard shift wins over shoppers, analysts – Reuters
- Macy’s keeping some stores open for 83 hours, starting Wednesday – Chicago Tribune
- Toys R Us to stay open 112 hours through 10 p.m. Dec. 24 – Chicago Tribune
- Store Wars – Wall Street Journal
- Shop till you drop: Stores staying open 24 hours a day to lure holiday shoppers – Daily News
- Christmas Eve Store Hours Being Later Are Fueling Shoppers for Last Minute Christmas Shopping – Z6 Mag
Discussion questions: Are extended hours — including offering 24-hour sessions in the final holiday shopping days — paying off for retailers? What are the pros and cons of extended hours? What’s the likelihood the industry will see another ramp up in extended shopping hours next holiday or even extended hours in other key selling periods of the year?