Consumers show mixed sentiment regarding Thanksgiving Day shopping

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 122 views 

Despite more retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, consumer sentiment about shopping during the holiday season is mixed, with two closely watched surveys showing different results.

The International Council of Shopping Center (ICSC) recently surveyed consumers about their shopping plans on the upcoming holidays. Just 12% of respondents said they plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day, while 41% said they will brave the crowds for Black Friday deals, which is roughly the same result as a year ago. Just 8% said they plan to shop on Christmas Eve, technically the last shopping day before Christmas.

It has only been a few years since retailers began offering door buster deals on Thanksgiving Day in an effort to reel in shoppers a little earlier. The thought being that the earlier they get shoppers to spend the better chance they have of ringing up sales and holiday marketshare.

Jean Lambert, director of research for ICSC, said a whopping 78% plan to shop on Thanksgiving weekend this year, which includes Thanksgiving Day, BlackFriday, Saturday, Sunday after Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. But with more retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon and Best Buy now offering deals earlier than Thanksgiving, retail analysts think perhaps more shoppers will stay home on Thanksgiving Day and spend that time with their families, vowing to hit the stores early on Friday.

As many as 22 retailers have said they will close on Thanksgiving Day to ensure their employees have time with family on this holiday. After being open last year, Staples North American President Demos Parneros said, “We want our customers and associates to enjoy Thanksgiving their own way,” vowing to close this year. 

Joey Mooring, a spokesman for GameStop, said the company decided to close because “we think it’s the right thing to do.” He said employees do have an early start on Black Friday with long hours throughout the weekend, so having a day to relax with family is in order. T.J. Maxx and its other companies say closing on Thanksgiving Day is the only way to go.

”We feel so strongly about our employees spending Thanksgiving with their families,” said T.J. Maxx spokeswoman Doreen Thompson. “And we don’t anticipate this changing in the future.”

The list of retailer’s announcing plans to close on Thanksgiving Day include: Costco, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, Sam’s Club, Burlington Coat Factory, American Girl, Crate & Barrel , Jo-Ann Fabrics, Ross Stores, Marshalls, Pier l Imports, Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, and Patagonia.

Retail analysts have said retailers opening on Thanksgiving with door buster deals and offering big sales ahead of turkey day are likely cannibalizing later sales. Analysts also say this holiday season is likely to highly promotional. 

Despite controversy over Thanksgiving Day openings, The National Retail Federation found that 22.3% of respondents plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day, compared to 18.3% last year.

Fayetteville-based Field Agent also recently asked consumers how they felt about retailers staging holiday gift-buying events on or before Thanksgiving Day. Those results indicate that one in three respondents view Thanksgiving or pre-Thanksgiving shopping events negatively. Roughly 18% of the respondents were neutral on the subject and 49% said they approved of retailer’s offering Thanksgiving Day or earlier deals.

Change.org, an online protest site, asked more than 12,000 site users who have signed petitions related to Thanksgiving if they will shop on Thanksgiving Day, and 82% of respondents said they will spend Thanksgiving Day with their families and not shop.

The primary reason respondents oppose retailers being open Thanksgiving Day is because they believe businesses should close to allow their employees to have time with families. Another concern voiced by the change.org respondents is that employees often don’t have the choice of working on the holiday if the retailer choses to be open.

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