For the third consecutive year, most Toys “R” Us stores will open for business at 5:00 p.m. local time on Thanksgiving Day and remain open for 30 straight hours, until 11:00 p.m. on Black Friday. The Times Square store in New York will be open even longer — from 8:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day until midnight Friday.
A store spokesman told USA Today “we see an overwhelmingly positive response from customers and deal seekers who are eager to shop early.”
Since filing for bankruptcy protection in September, however, Toys “R” Us has an additional reason to remain open. It needs the sales that have been draining away to competitors like Walmart, Target and Amazon.
Stores that remain open on Thanksgiving Day are probably fighting for a lost cause. Citing recent studies, eMarketer notes:
Increased online promotions and retailers’ ever-earlier or extended Black Friday-type doorbuster deals are killing consumers’ appetite to shop the day after Thanksgiving, other polls point to the contrary. Similar debates have also been made about the relevancy of Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving day itself.
To no one’s surprise, the big attraction for holiday shoppers is price. Last year, total spending for the Thanksgiving weekend dropped 3.5% compared with 2015, while in-store traffic fell 3.7% and online traffic increased by 4.2%.
Selling at big discounts only works if retailers can make up in volume what they give away in profit. That’s hard to do — and getting harder — when e-commerce sales can match the prices, ship the goods free and quickly, and save shoppers the aggravation of going to the mall.
Online spending on Thanksgiving Day last year was up 11.5% to $1.93 billion, while store visits declined 1%. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that 28% of Thanksgiving Day shoppers this year will do most of their shopping only online, up 10% compared with last year. Another 17% will shop both online and in stores, while 13% will shop only in stores.
As of early November, some 75 stores had announced that they would remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, including retail giants like Costco, Home Depot and Nordstrom. More than half of Americans in one survey said they disliked or strongly disliked retail stores being open on Thanksgiving Day, up slightly from the same survey last year.