Mall Of America, Staples, BJ’s Make Sure You Know They’re Closed On Thanksgiving

Image courtesy of Meet Minneapolis

It was about five years ago that the Thanksgiving shopping trend began to metastasize throughout the retail business: opening times on Black Friday crept back from the wee hours of Black Friday morning to the late hours of Thanksgiving. Malls joined big-box stores, and Thanksgiving Day was fun for a few years. Then a widespread backlash began, and retailers took advantage of that.

While Kmart has a long-standing tradition of opening on Thanksgiving Day, as far as we can tell, the first store to do this in the modern era was Toys ‘R’ Us. Other retailers joined in an early-opening arms race, until the public had enough. Campaigns like Boycott Black Thursday flourished online. People even picketed malls that planned to open on Thanksgiving. Not on Thanksgiving, though.

That’s when it happened: retailers realized that they could gain publicity points by making a big show of staying closed on Thanksgiving. Staples made an early announcement that it would be closed last year, and has done the same this year.

Wholesale club BJ’s did open on Thanksgiving in the past, but avoided the craze of the last decade, and sent out a press release noting that it would close on Thanksgiving Day “for the 10th year in a row.”

The country’s biggest cathedral of commerce, the Mall of America in Minnesota, joined in and announced that it will close on the holiday as well. Malls making the decision to open up is a big deal, since stores can be fined if they don’t open during standard mall hours.

In the case of the Mall of America, some anchors may choose to open during the holiday, but the mall’s own attractions, including its movie theaters and amusement park, won’t be open. A charity walk to fight hunger will also be held inside the mall as planned.

REI took the idea even farther, making a big show of staying closed on Black Friday as well, encouraging employees and shoppers to go outside instead.

When we can shop online and are happy to wait until Monday for items to ship, why do we need stores to open on a holiday anyway? People should be grateful for the sacrifices of people who have to work on holidays to help us travel, to keep us safe, to serve food, and to sell us that last-minute box of stuffing that we forgot.

Buying toys isn’t a necessary service, though, and retail employees shouldn’t have to sacrifice the holiday.