From the look of it, more retailers are going to be open on Thanksgiving day this year than ever before. The latest to join the throng is Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) which announced on Thursday that about 1,000 stores would open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening.
Best Buy opened at midnight on Black Friday last year, so opening a few hours earlier must seem like a natural progression to company management. The store’s announcement of the Thanksgiving hours noted that last year, “millions of people made it clear that they wanted to shop on Thanksgiving evening.”
Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving for the first time this year, following the lead of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) which already keeps stores open on Thanksgiving. Walmart’s 24-hour stores will be open when the Black Friday sales begin, preventing the kind of land-rush stampede that led to the trampling death of an employee in 2008.
J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) will open at 8 p.m. and Sears Holdings Corp. (NASDAQ: SHLD) plans to open its Sears at 8 p.m. as well, with Kmart stores opening at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning.
Sears promises more than 1,000 “doorbuster” sales items will be available at its Sears stores from Thursday night’s opening time to Friday night’s closing at 10 p.m. At Kmart stores, the company is promoting 41 straight hours of Black Friday deals from Thanksgiving morning to Friday at 11 p.m.
Penney’s stores will only be open for four hours Thanksgiving evening and it’s difficult to see the point to the exercise. Same with Macy’s. For Penney’s, the decision to open was likely motivated by a desire to show investors that the company is doing all it can to increase sales. A few extra hours of sales won’t do anything substantive for Penney’s.
Retailers face a short holiday shopping season this year. With six fewer days than last year this is the shortest shopping season in years. That’s a particular hardship for strugglers like Penney and Sears.
The other, bigger, and getting worse problem is Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and shoppers don’t even have to leave the couch to spend their cash. Walmart claims the second-largest retail site on the web, but all those brick-and-mortar stores are where the real money is for Walmart.