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Store Employees Are Thankful This Year, and So Are Shoppers

Until last year, retailer priorities over the Thanksgiving holiday was to squeeze out every penny out of the holiday shopper, leaving sales associates and other retail employees to cut short their holiday time to open doors and cater to early bargain hunters. From a pragmatic business perspective, opening doors earlier can be a zero sum game; yes, it might boost early sales but in the end, it simply extends the season without meaningful revenue gains and at a cost to employee morale.

Several stores have decided to close their doors again this year on Thanksgiving Day, with employees in mind, along with the goal to improve efforts to boost morale among the company and front-line workers. “Over the past few years, we’ve heard a great deal of moaning and groaning by employees who have to come into work while their family is at home, enjoying Thanksgiving,” Avila, founding of HH Gregg Center for Professional Selling. “People simply don’t want to walk away from young children or older relatives on what is supposed to be a very special day in our country.”

As year’s go by, so does the increasing influence of online. Retailers still have an opportunity to grab sales in other modes. Online gives retailers a place to redeploy their assets and fire up their offering. Shoppers can log on to retail websites at any time of day and get their Thanksgiving or Black Friday fix with the push of a button (and no lines!). Also, retailers can capitalize on shifting retail dollars toward web specials and marketing sales earlier in the week, while also offering in-store promotions following the holiday and into the weekend.

Last year, REI had their #OptOutside initiative which is back to strike again this holiday for both Thanksgiving and Black Friday, encouraging shoppers to go outdoors. The promotion and store closure was wellreceived and appreciated by customers. This year other retailers like Costco, American Girl, Ikea, Menards, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Neiman Marcus, Petsmart and Publix are following suit.

Additionally, a number of malls are also following suit including the biggest of them all, Mall of America, as well as 72 of the 89 malls operated by CBL & Associates Properties. Although the malls will be closed, retailers inside and anchors, will have the option to open. Regardless of this, most of the stores will likely remain closed and MOA has reported that up to 14,000 employees will be able to spend the holiday with their friends and family.

We are hoping that the Black Friday insanity (earlier hours, bigger discounts) might be subsiding and retailers can go back to sweating out their Holiday sales through rationalized store hours and a bigger on-line presence.


McMillanDoolittle is a premier international retail consultancy bringing deep experience with world class clients. Our partners have extensive experience interpreting the retail marketplace and converting insights into successful strategies. We help clients develop innovative solutions in strategy development, the customer experience, new concepts, brand performance, retail performance improvement and retail intelligence services.

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