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Meet The Anti-Black-Friday-Creep Crowd


Jim Henderson CC

Marge Fenelon - published on 11/15/14

More stores refuse to compete with retailers whose "biggest sale of the year" is taking over Thanksgiving.

What’s become known “Black Friday creep” has been raising eyebrows in recent years. That’s the retailing trend to extend “Black Friday” special sales hours into Thanksgiving. Last year, WalMart began its Black Friday sales at 6pm on Thanksgiving and Target at 8pm. This year, Macy’s has joined the trend by announcing that its stores will open at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s is the first major retailer of 2014 to advance the creep of shopping hours into the Thanksgiving holiday.

But this year there’s another trend that is raising eyebrows.

There are at least 28 major retailers that have decided to remain closed on Thanksgiving. This list, so far:

American Girl
Barnes & Noble
Bed, Bath and Beyond
BJ’s Wholesale Club
Burlington Coat Factory
Crate & Barrel
Hobby Lobby
Home Depot
Jo Ann Fabrics
Pier 1
Sam’s Club
Sur La Table
T.J. Maxx
Von Maur Department Stores

The reasons for bucking the trend and remaining closed on Thanksgiving all boil down to one consideration: family. Retailers who are keeping Black Friday to the day after Thanksgiving are conscious not only of the desire for consumers to be with family, but more prominently the desire of employees to spend the holiday with loved ones rather than working.

“At GameStop we often use the phrase ‘protect the family’ in reference to our business,” said Jackie Smith, GameStop’s Manager for Corporate Communications. “A large part of what that means to us is to not open any of our GameStop, SimplyMac, Spring Mobile, or Cricket Wireless US locations on Thanksgiving Day out of respect for our store associates and their families and friends. We believe it’s the right decision not only for our employees, but also for our customers. Enjoy this time with your loved ones and we’ll see you on Friday. For us, closing stores on Thanksgiving is a principled stand to allow our associates the time with their families, and we’ve received a positive response from our associates and customers, as well.”

Some may argue that since Thanksgiving Day isn’t a religious holiday, there’s no harm in letting Black Friday creep into it. Others, however, point out that it’s not the religiosity of the holiday, but rather its symbolic significance that counts in this respect.

For that reason, Sur La Table stores will be closed nationwide on November 27.

“Sur La Table will not be opening its retails locations and cooking class programs on Thanksgiving Day,” said Sur La Table Executive Vice President of Retail, Jeff Gottlieb. “Our people share a passion for cooking and entertaining with our customers on a daily basis. We want to make sure they can share that same passion with friends and family on the biggest cooking and entertaining holiday of the year.”

TJX Companies, Inc. share that opinion.

“All of our T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods, and Sierra Trading Post stores will be closed on Thanksgiving and are scheduled to open on Friday morning, November 28th. We consider ourselves an associate-friendly company, and we are pleased to give our associates time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends,” said Colleen Beauregard, Assistant Vice President of TJX Corporate Communications.

The decision whether or not to extend Black Friday creep into Thanksgiving affects employees and customers, but it affects other retailers as well. Particularly in malls and shopping courts, the fact that other, major, retailers are open on Thanksgiving puts pressure on those that may wish to keep their doors closed.

“The pressure on small retailers, especially those in malls, who rely on the business the big stores attract, is huge,” said Deacon Bob Davis, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “Their mall location is necessary for their success. Actions like that of Simon Malls, which force small businesses to go against their own principles or face financial ruin, are unconscionable.”

The shift in the number of major retailers that have decided not to open on Thanksgiving Day may help to change attitudes and reverse the trend. Consumers also have influence on retailer decisions. If customers prefer not to shop on Thanksgiving, retailers have no reason to hold store hours.

“Based on member feedback, we have elected to close our clubs Thanksgiving Day and to keep our regular club hours on the day after Thanksgiving rather than open early,” said a spokesperson for Sam’s Club.

As an alternative, Sam’s Club and many other retailers will make Black Friday sales available online on Thanksgiving Day. That way, those who really want to shop can, and retailers can keep their number of employees working that day to an absolute minimum, mainly just to staff the retailer’s website for purchases.

“Over the years our tradition has been to be closed on Thanksgiving and so unveil our holiday trim Friday morning,” said Dan Evans, Jr., Nordstrom Corporate Affairs Director. “Most importantly, we’ll always listen to the needs of our customers and evolve based on how they want to shop. For those customers who want to shop with us on Thanksgiving, we try to make it convenient for them to do so online.”

Whether you’re a consumer or a retailer, the decision to join or resist Black Friday creep has impact that extends further than the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s reflection of an overall trend away from family values.

James Hanlon, of Charlotte, North Carolina, worked in retail for 32 years and has watched commercialism increasingly infringe on family and religious holidays during that time. It used to be, he explained, that stores were closed on Sundays and holidays, and yet, consumers were still able to do everything they needed to.

Over time, the number of occasions retailers closed dwindled.

“One by one these holidays were taken away until only Christmas remains, and that’s teetering as well,” he said. “Unfortunately, the door may never be closed because as soon as one retailer does something, everyone else must follow. If anyone wants to know why families are no longer the same, enjoying Sunday dinners and weekend get-togethers, for example, or why church attendance is down, simply look at the world of retail. The demands won’t allow it.”

In spite of the squeeze, some retailers are still standing strong in their convictions to save Thanksgiving for giving thanks and not shopping or working. Publix Super Markets has never altered its policy to remain closed on Thanksgiving and doesn’t ever plan on it.

“In our 84 year history, we have never been open on Thanksgiving Day. Publix will be closed on Thanksgiving Day in order to allow our associates the opportunity to share with their family and friends and give thanks this Thanksgiving,” said Maria Brous, Publix Director of Media and Community Relations.

Marge Fenelon is a Catholic author, columnist, and speaker and a regular guest on Catholic radio. She’s written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life, including Strengthening Your Family: a Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home (Our Sunday Visitor, 2011) and Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom (Ave Maria Press, 2013). Find out more about Marge at

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