If the change of weather from summer to fall has you thinking about the holidays, you’re not the only one. The Mall of America is looking ahead to on of the biggest shopping days of the year, and this year it has made a shocking and unexpected announcement.
The nation’s biggest mall has declared, much to the surprise of shoppers everywhere, that it will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.
Over the past years, a growing crop of retailers and shopping centers have begun to open their doors on Thanksgiving evening to get a jumpstart on holiday shopping and Black Friday sales figures. The strategy is to elongate the manic shopping event that was previously confined to one day in order to get a competitive edge on capturing market share of consumers’ holiday spending.
But the Mall of America has drawn a line in the sand. The Bloomington mega mall sent out a notice on Wednesday morning to its employees and tenants that this year will be different. They will close as many of its operations as possible for the duration of Thanksgiving Day. Nickelodeon Universe and the movie theaters will be closed for Thanksgiving for the first time in its twenty four year history.
The mall houses over five hundred and twenty stores, and the stores have the option to open on Thanksgiving if they choose, but there will be limited mall staff on duty that day. Mall officials speculate that few will choose to be open.
“We’ve been talking about this for months, looking at the numbers, looking at the pros and the cons,” said Jill Renslow, the mall’s senior vice president of marketing and business development. “We’re excited to give this day back to our employees so they can celebrate with their families.”
The mall employs fifteen thousand people, all of whom will be affected by the decision. A skeleton crew of security officers and maintenance personnel will be on site, as some stores will likely be open on the holiday, and because the annual Walk to End Hunger fundraiser will still go on.
By making this decision, Renslow said the mall officials hope to “bring that special magic back to Black Friday.” The mall will open a 5am on the Friday after Thanksgiving, instead of staying open all night like it has in recent years. Executives have even planned a special door opening ceremony and accompanying festivities and giveaways to inject enthusiasm into their return to a proper Black Friday shopping schedule.
Most stores in the mall have yet to announce their shopping hours on the holiday. Marshal Cohen, a retail analyst with NPD Group, doubts that the big box stores will follow suit. “Do I see the rest of the country doing it? No,” he said. “Do I see it going back in that direction? A little bit. I think some stores may realize that it may be an expense they may not want to have, but they’re also afraid to not do it.”
He notes that opening on Thanksgiving Day has not actually increased overall Black Friday sales, but rather spreads the same amount of spending over multiple days. Still, as people line up for doorbuster sales on Thanksgiving Day, retailers are afraid to take the same stand as the Mall of America and let their employees stay home with their families on this special day.
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