Retailers are Opting to Open Even Earlier on “Black Friday” This Year. But Why?
This year, more than ever it feels like, the Thanksgiving truthers have been out in full force reminding everyone that the third Thursday of November is still reserved for a national holiday. So, while you’re out there turning on your Christmas lights and blasting your holiday tunes already, these folks would like you to remember that there’s still an awkward family get together that needs to happen before we can advance any further.
However, rather than screaming at their neighbors, maybe these Thanksgiving activists ought to be out in full force at their local big box retailer, reminding them of this long-forgotten holiday.
Along with the flip of the calendar to the eleventh month of the year, we’ve been treated to plenty of strategically leaked Black Friday ads from retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy, and others. And while the ads themselves are something to go through, its the information contained on the front page of each that really has a lot of people shaking their heads. Whereas the last few years have seen some retailers try to make headlines by keeping their doors closed on Thanksgiving Thursday, the three aforementioned brands—among plenty of others—have seemingly kept turning their clocks further and further back, encroaching on the sanctity of the Turkey Day dinner even more.
Target will open its doors at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, keeping them that way until 1 a.m., when they’ll give their employees a six-hour reprieve before reopening at 7 a.m. on Black Friday. Best Buy will have a similar schedule, opening at 5 p.m. on November 22, before closing at 1 a.m. It will reopen, however, an hour later at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. And then there’s Walmart, which will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving (two-hours earlier than last year) with seemingly no plans of closing its doors—it’s Black Friday deals, though, will start going online Wednesday night at 10 p.m.
As you’d expect, there’s lot of tech to be had, including deals on TVs, smartphones, gaming systems, cameras, and more. But while that’s great and all for the tech that’s on sale and the consumers looking to score major deals, does the idea of opening so much earlier on Thanksgiving actually pay off for the retailer? Consider some of the pros and cons:
One pro, you’re certainly gaining a competitive advantage on the retailers who opt to remain closed on Thanksgiving. If consumers are being conditioned to start heading out earlier—either before or after they sit down for their Thanksgiving dinner—then what’s the harm to the bottom line in staying open? If most other retailers are closed, customers are only going to have a handful of options on Thanksgiving, so making yourself available isn’t a bad idea.
However, the flip side to that is the impact that it has on employee morale. While customers may be excited by the idea that you’re open for business, the employees who have to staff your store could have just the opposite feeling—especially if you’re open early enough that it impedes on their opportunity to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner with their family.
Another pro is the opportunity to get your sales started sooner. Even if it is for just a few hours, the idea that customers can come into your store and shop your deals before setting foot in another store is incredibly important. It’s an awareness thing for the retailer. In knowing that you’re going to be open earlier than other retailers, customers may look to your store as an early opportunity to save big, which inherently draws more attention to your store.
But there are drawbacks to this as well. The idea of being open on Thanksgiving is still a bit of a touchy subject in the media and with a good chunk of the general public. So you have to consider if it’d be worth the negative press—if that were to happen.
There’s a lot to consider with opening earlier on Thanksgiving and getting a jump start on the Black Friday holiday shopping weekend. At least for the big box store, the risks appear to be outweighed by the potential rewards.