But for the past two years, the store has opened on Thanksgiving Day. This year, stores opened at 6 p.m. on America’s quintessential holiday, two hours ahead of last year and six hours earlier than the retailer’s midnight opening in 2012.
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"I always try to do what the customer wants us to do and based on the response from our customers here last night, they clearly wanted our stores to be open," Lundgren tells TheStreet in a sit-down interview at Macy’s eponymous store in Herald Square. “Our employees volunteer to work on Thanksgiving and we pay them time and a half, so you have to listen to the customer and the employees.”
Macy’s has 176,000 employees and hired an additional 85,000 to handle the increased demand in November and December, with the stipulation that they would be working during peak days like Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Lundgren says most volunteered to work on Thanksgiving Day.
The consumer drives the retail business. Economic conditions have improved, especially employment and more recently the drop in gas prices, which economists say adds $40 billion to the consumer.
But Lundgren would like to see higher consumption. “Even though the GDP numbers have improved, it’s mostly because consumers are spending more money on healthcare, but I’d like to see more retail spending, because consumption is the biggest part of GDP and retail is the single largest employer in America.”