It's been roughly a half decade since large stores began opening on Thanksgiving and, on paper, nobody seems to think it's a great idea. Of the 154.4 million people who went shopping on Thanksgiving weekend, only 35% to 36% did so on Thanksgiving, according to the National Retail Federation. Of that group only 40% actually shopped in stores on Thanksgiving, with 44% doing their holiday shopping online.
However, according to retail market research firm ShopperTrak, in-store shopping on Thanksgiving and Black Friday declined a combined 1% compared to the same days in 2015. With Black Friday 2016 shopping flat when compared to Black Friday 2015, much of that decline came on Thanksgiving.
"After analyzing historical shopper visit data, we found that Thanksgiving Day store openings were increasingly pulling shopper visits from Black Friday over the past few years," said Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak. "[Last] year, we saw a reversal of that trend, which can be attributed to several factors including fewer store openings on Thanksgiving Day, as well as online shopping.
For many retailers, that small bit of bad Thanksgiving news was all they needed to hear. This year, more than 60 store chains have announced they will remain closed on Thanksgiving. The lineup of Thanksgiving closures includes retail heavyweights BJ's Wholesale Club, Burlington, Cabela's, Costco, Crate and Barrel, DSW, Ethan Allen, H&M, Harbor Freight, Home Depot, HomeGoods, IKEA, JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores, Jos. A. Bank, Lowe's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom (including Nordstrom Rack), Office Depot/OfficeMax, Patagonia, Petco, PetSmart, Pier 1 Imports, REI, Sam's Club, Staples, Sur La Table, The Container Store and TJ Maxx. Other stores may not have a choice, as Tennessee-based mall owner CBL Properties is closing malls in 27 states on Thanksgiving. Though retail analysis site DealNews predicts that the glut of the best deals between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will fall on Thanksgiving this year, it also notes that the sheer number of closed stores will tilt that advantage away from Thanksgiving in the coming years.
"Stores that stay open that day tend to be on the receiving end of negative press; many shoppers see them as keeping employees away from friends and families," says DealNews's Julie Ramhold. "Store websites are usually immune to this criticism, though."
Retailers hauled in $1.3 billion in online sales last Thanksgiving, according to market research firm ComScore. Yet that hasn't stopped embattled store chains from opening stores on Thanksgiving. Walmart (WMT) , Target (TGT) , Sears (SHLD) , Kmart, Kohl's (KSS) , Best Buy (BBY) , Macy's (M) , Toys R Us, JC Penney (JCP) , Dick's Sporting Goods (DKS) , Old Navy (GPS) , Gander Mountain, Bass Pro Shops (CAB) , Dollar General (DG) , and Family Dollar (DLTR) all open on Thanksgiving day.
While most open between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., noteworthy exceptions include Old Navy opening at 4 p.m., JC Penney at 3 p.m. and Big Lots and Bass Pro Shops opening at 7 and 8 a.m. respectively. Yet even the consumers who shop in stores on Thanksgiving day see those early store openings as a waste of time and effort. According to the National Retail Federation, only 7% of in-store Thanksgiving shoppers headed to stores before 5 p.m., down a whopping 19% from 2015.
Is there any reason to your holiday shopping on Thanksgiving day? Yes, according to DealNews. Between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, DealNews says many of the best deals on cameras, iPhones, speakers, televisions, tablets, movies, video games, appliances, kitchen items and shoes can only be found on Thanksgiving day.
Last year, Thanksgiving day had the most deals, on Bluetooth speakers. This year, some can be found for as little as $7, but most prices will fall to $20 or less, though. Depending on the model, new Bose speakers could drop to $269, Harman Kardon could fall to $90, and select Samsung speakers could hit $80. While television deals start appearing as early as Nov. 10, you stand just as much a chance of getting a $500 55-inch 4K television as you would on Black Friday. Meanwhile, roughly 75% of video game deals offered last Thanksgiving were the best of Thanksgiving weekend, making it your best chance to get a $400 virtual reality bundle or an Xbox On S or PS4 Slim bundle for less than $200. As for blenders, mixers, coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, pots, pans and even small tools, Thanksgiving marks your best opportunity for the deepest discounts on all of the above -- in spite of the fact that both Home Depot and Lowe's will be closed.
Thanksgiving day isn't without its deal. Unless you're shopping for items in one of its small niches, though, those deals typically aren't worth the missed meal.
And these stores don't even give you the option to shop:
TheStreet's "Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Survival Guide" series aims to help you, the consumer and the investor, navigate the holiday season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and everything in between. Through a number stories, videos, graphics and other multimedia elements TheStreet takes a look at the biggest challenges of the season, the winners and losers from the shifting retail environment and much more. Read More about navigating the holiday season.
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