Gap, Wal-Mart Staying Open on Thanksgiving

Discussion
Nov 17, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Many retailers
are looking to get a jump on holiday sales by getting started before Black
Friday. A number of chains, including
Gap Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores, are also planning to have locations open on Thanksgiving
for shoppers who may want to mix a little shopping in with their turkey.

“We
were open for Easter this year and decided to give Thanksgiving a try,” Tawnya
Scott, a manager at Banana Republic in downtown Seattle told The Seattle
Times
. “Being
downtown, you have a lot of visitors who want something to do that day.” Ms.
Scott’s store will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

“Since
most people are off work on Thanksgiving, and they’re already in the holiday
mood, they might like the idea of shopping,” Ellen Davis, a spokesperson
at the National Retail Federation, told The Seattle
Times
.

Ms. Davis also
said retailers need to consider some downsides associated with staying
open on the holiday.

“There’s a sensitivity
factor for customers who don’t want to see Thanksgiving become commercialized,” she
said. “And there certainly are employee sensitivities. People have to staff
the store that day.”

Discussion
Question: Is it a good idea or bad for retailers to open stores on Thanksgiving?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

30 Comments on "Gap, Wal-Mart Staying Open on Thanksgiving"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
11 years 5 months ago
Seriously, when is it going to stop? As it is, Christmas decorations are out before Halloween. This year, several retailers have opted to run “Black Friday” every Friday in November. Are we sucking out all the energy and excitement related to these big holiday seasons? Is this doing more harm then good in the long run? How far can we stretch the holiday season? Why not start “Black Friday” in August when retail is slow? Thanksgiving should be set aside to relax and reflect on everything we have to be thankful for. Employees of these stores that plan to be open need a day to be thankful also, and general consumers need a day to do something other than spend money they don’t have. This is not a bad idea, it is a terrible idea. You could give stuff away on Thanksgiving and I promise you I won’t be there to pick it up. I will be sitting back with my family and friends eating turkey, telling stories and finally sitting in front of the… Read more »
W. Frank Dell II
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

The real question is where you draw the line. Clearly there are consumers who have no family to be with or cannot travel. They may also not be football fans. So a retailer that will be open must communicate with those consumers, otherwise, it is a hit or miss.

I think the idea of capturing sales on Thanksgiving Day from competing retailers is questionable. Given consumers’ current state of mind, the more likely scenario is bringing some sales forward a day or two. A retailer must balance this versus the impact on their workforce. How much must you reward staff to work on that day and what do they think of the company? Staff will work this year, but what about next year?

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
11 years 5 months ago

Bad idea to open on Thanksgiving or Christmas in the U.S. Makes the retailer look as though revenue increases are their only goal, and has the potential to alienate a large group of customers. Much better to take the day off, like even food retailer Publix does, and put up a big sign saying they are closed in order to give their employees a day to spend with their families. The small increase in sales achieved by opening isn’t worth it.

Roger Saunders
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

The “Coach” always told us to warm up slowly, and take in a good amount of oxygen prior to the heat of the battle.

Holiday “Madness” happens for an extended number of days in November and December. Retailers should let the consumer and their own associates get a breather, and a refresh prior to this time of year. The incremental sales, over the Holiday Season are not going to be appreciably greater, or appreciated by consumer/associate, as a result of this move.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
11 years 5 months ago

I think it’s great for retailers to be open on Thanksgiving day. People are in the shopping mood and they have nothing to do. Sounds like a good setup for retailing.

David Livingston
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

It’s Thanksgiving; you are off of work, dinner is over and family is gone. Might be nice to have something do other than sitting around and loosening your belt. A lot of stores are open on Thanksgiving, they just don’t get the press the way Wal-Mart does.

Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

The more sensitive we say we’re becoming, the more insensitive we behave. As George points out, those stores must be staffed with real people who have families and friends with whom they would like to spend some time. For the few people who are looking for something to do on Thanksgiving I say go visit your family or volunteer in your community, and let the rest of us, well, just rest.

Mark Burr
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

This is no surprise for Wal-Mart. But GAP?

Clearly those making the decision won’t be in the stores working that day.

No wonder we regularly discuss why retail is not a top choice for a career. Decisions like this don’t help that cause either.

Eliott Olson
Guest
Eliott Olson
11 years 5 months ago

I wonder if the top 100 Wal-Mart executives will be in the stores or with their “real” families?

A company with a heart would not even think about asking an employee to work on the this nation’s one day that we all share. A company with heart would insist that their employees spend this day with their loved ones or perhaps in the service of the less fortunate. Then again, the Wal-Mart employees at store level are probably the less fortunate. Sorry guys! I will take a turkey sandwich over to my local greeter at half time.

Laura Davis-Taylor
Guest
Laura Davis-Taylor
11 years 5 months ago

I agree that this is a terrible idea–especially from Walmart. The news hit last week about their horrible sick day policy and now a group of employees at each store are going to have to work on Thanksgiving “or else.” May I sentiment the comment above of “when is this going to stop?” It’s deplorable.

Rick Myers
Guest
Rick Myers
11 years 5 months ago

Wal-Mart being open is a different matter for me. They sell consumables like paper plates and cups and napkins. There is a real need for people to get their Cool Whip on Thanksgiving. However, I think the Gap will be empty that day. Freestanding stores might be ok. Are the malls staffed and open on Thanksgiving? How do their mall stores stay open? Especially with the other stores in the mall closed.

Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
11 years 5 months ago

It’s a good idea for the retailer, unfortunately. It is unfortunate that the family and friends of associates for these companies will have to do without their attendance. But we all saw and witnessed the mob on Black Friday. There will be some that will say “no way” to shopping on Thursday. I’ll be one of them. But there will be many that will be out there scavenging for bargains.

carol mann
Guest
carol mann
11 years 5 months ago

If you absolutely positively need to shop on Thanksgiving, go on the web and have at it! The staff needs the Holiday too!

Topper Hull
Guest
Topper Hull
11 years 5 months ago

While I agree that we do need someplace to go to get Cool Whip or cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, I do not, however, need a pair of jeans or a new wool peacoat. Any revenue that the GAP makes on Thanksgiving will be paid out the back door in payroll dollars, electricity and cogs. Why not be closed and be thankful that you have employees that would be willing to work on Thanksgiving instead of being open?

I worked for Kinko’s, ok FedEx Kinko’s, ok FedEx Office…and we stayed open a few years for Thanksgiving. I made sure that everyone was well fed and they made 2.5x the regular hourly rate that day. Did we make money? No. Was it a great idea? Looking back, not really.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

I just hope that consumers show some support for store associates by staying away in droves.

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
11 years 5 months ago

Opening for Thanksgiving Day shopping makes more sense for discounters like Walmart, where consumers can shop a variety of categories and, if needed, pick up some forgotten turkey dinner ingredients. But for specialty stores like Gap, it’s better to keep the doors closed. Gap shoppers can only shop for apparel and it’s unlikely there will be many nearby stores that are also open so consumers have more shopping options. I’d rather see Gap and other specialty merchants develop some creative, online campaigns for Thanksgiving.

In other words, shopping on Thanksgiving will likely prove a hearty meal for Walmart and a turkey for the Gap.

Bill James
Guest
Bill James
11 years 5 months ago

It’s becoming a giant race to the bottom for the retailers. Shopping on a National Holiday like Thanksgiving in lieu of spending time with family and friends is really getting to be an act of desperation for the Walmarts, Gaps and Banana Republics of the world. I mean seriously, why not volunteer at the shelter, putting together meals on wheels, visiting with friends, or just plain enjoying the spirit of the day? Thanksgiving is a 4F event: Family, Friends, Food and Football. Let’s stop this constant drive to buy “stuff” and focus on what’s really important–our personal relationships with the human race.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
11 years 5 months ago

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday and one that we all can (and should) share gratefully and equally. It honors no specific religious or military affiliation and carries no PC issues. It just involves stopping for one little day to pause and reflect that even during the most difficult times, there is always so much to appreciate all around us. It makes me both sad and mad that this traditional and important day which once allowed us as a country to bond and to rise beyond cultural, political, racial, religious, and class boundaries–and simply celebrate as humans in a common day of gratitude–has been so bastardized by the retail industry.

Lee Peterson
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Walmart I get; they have consumables…but Gap? We can’t wait for a pair of jeans? It’s not like there’s been pent-up demand lately for apparel. So, my answer is: it depends. I actually wouldn’t mind it if Whole Foods was open on T-Day.

Tim Cote
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Around here, almost all grocery stores are open, at least until 3 or 4 PM. Kmart, Walgreens and Shopko have been open for years. What makes Wal-Mart a different case other than their size? For those who are worried about people that have to work, what about gas station/c-store employees? Airline employees? This just seems like Wal-Mart defending share that they have let others steal more and more each year.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
11 years 5 months ago
This idea certainly raises some strong opinions. But does it really matter? The retailers are not forcing the shoppers to leave their families and come to the stores. If there are people who want to go shopping on Thanksgiving, they should have stores to go to. If nobody goes, the stores won’t be open next year. But who out there will it be that want to see fewer openings rather than more next year? Oh, the workers? It would not surprise me if the retailer had more volunteers than positions to work that day. There are plenty of bodies that need a little extra money. Why are we not concerned about the poor football players who have to work on Thanksgiving? The college players don’t even get paid nor do they get an opportunity to go home for the holiday. And yes, there are basketball games on Thanksgiving as well. And speaking of sports on Thanksgiving, is there no better way for the family to be together and give thanks then to cuddle up to… Read more »
Craig Sundstrom
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

I’m somewhat ambivalent about this, but I have no doubt it represents a further erosion of what makes – made? – holidays special. I may be dating myself (though I don’t think by that much) but I can remember when there was so little traffic in a typical business district on TG I could have quite literally laid down in the middle of the street and taken a nap.

Doug Fleener
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

I ranted about this last year when some malls and outlet centers went to madness sales, but was surprised to hear that most of the employees were fine with it. As a matter of fact, one manager told me that he had to turn down volunteers.

I think back to when I was in my 20’s working at The Sharper Image. I would have been fine working Thanksgiving as long as I got triple time. Okay, I would taken time and a half and a free turkey sandwich.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
11 years 5 months ago

In ancient Rome, royal feasts were enjoyed in facilities that included a room called the vomitorium. It was not there so the guests could get skinny, but so they could return to the feast and consume more. SNL did a hilarious sketch about it back in an early season with the original cast. Too bad that Roman wine was consumed from lead vessels, negatively affecting the minds of the royals while they expelled their wine in order to drink more.

With today’s level of obesity in our country, shopping on Thanksgiving allows consumers (and I do mean consumers) to eat well in the morning, go shopping, and then eat well again when they return home. Let’s just hope that the retailers have vomitoriums (vomitorii?).

Edward Weisberg
Guest
Edward Weisberg
11 years 5 months ago

For better or worse, retailers have come to the conclusion that they need to open their stores on Thanksgiving. It would be great to let employees spend the day with their families, and I hope these retailers do not penalize any employees that are unwilling to work that day.

But the days of blue laws and stores closed on Sundays are long gone. These retailers realize that they now compete with all of the Internet sellers, who remain open 24/7/365. The truth is that many shoppers are ready and eager to begin their holiday shopping after their Turkey dinners, and many immigrant citizens simply don’t celebrate the holiday. Therefore, it’s just good business to be open. If they don’t open the stores, they will simply lose those sales to the Internet retailers.

John McNamara
Guest
11 years 5 months ago
Amazing how old fashioned the viewpoints here are. If stores are going to lose money by staying open then they obviously wouldn’t do it. There might well be plenty of customers AND employees who couldn’t think of anything better to do on Thanksgiving than go to the store. Maybe there are college kids who’d like to go with their moms to the mall and buy some Christmas gifts for their dad. Why be treated like cattle the next day when you can be the king on Thanksgiving? If I recall there was a fatality last Black Friday. And seriously, this country has an obesity problem. Is it better for dad to sit on a couch watching tv, the son in the back playing on his Playstation, the daughter lying on her bed on the phone and the mom cooking in the kitchen than for them to be outdoors doing something that doesn’t involve eating? And a large part of the retail salesforce are part timers anyway. Maybe they need the extra salary to pay their… Read more »