Thanksgiving Day Shopping Hours Continue To Shrink
A decades-old tradition, both cherished and reviled, is changing.
Thanksgiving Day shoppers who postpone the post-feast snooze to get first crack at bargains will have fewer options this year as more stores are limiting hours.
The shift follows consumer behavior as more shoppers prefer to browse deals online.
“What we have seen so far is that retailers are really making these decisions based off of the best business strategy and relationships that they have with their customers,” said Ana Smith, spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation.
The Viewmont Mall in Scranton and Dickson City is closed on Thanksgiving, according to a memo. Anchor stores, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Field & Stream, may open, but must keep their gates into the mall’s interior shut until 6 a.m. Nov. 23, the Friday after Thanksgiving.
PREIT, Viewmont’s parent company, also owns the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre Twp. where the same hours apply.
In a statement, the company said it set the holiday hours after watching traffic patterns and its retailers’ holiday plans over the past several years.
Stores that open for Thanksgiving have taken heat for injecting commercialism into a holiday centered on togetherness.
Meanwhile, hourly employees often opt to take the extra hours for more pay, and bargain hounds twitch with excitement over doorbusters.
The shift also comes as the economy strengthens and shoppers have more to spend.
The NRF and its data-crunching partner Prosper Insights & Analytics expect holiday spending reach between $717.5 billion and $720.9 billion this year. It topped out at $687.9 billion last year.
That breaks down to an average $1,007 per consumer, compared to $967 last year.
“Confidence is near an all-time high, unemployment is the lowest we’ve seen in decades and take-home wages are up,” NRF President Matthew Shay said in a statement. “All of that is reflected in consumers’ buying plans.”
A growing list of chains, including Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx and Sam’s Club confirmed they are staying closed on Thanksgiving, according to a running list at www.bestblackfriday.com. The website’s list includes 70-plus national and regional brands that have confirmed they will close for Thanksgiving.
Major retailers — the Walmarts, Targets and Best Buys — will likely continue to open to waiting shoppers on Thanksgiving for years to come, but Smith expects the lines outside will be smaller, comprising only the impassioned shoppers who thrive on the thrill of showing up first and in person.
PREIT closed its malls on Thanksgiving last year, too.
The only difference this year is that Viewmont and Wyoming Valley will open the Saturday after Black Friday an hour later and close an hour later, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., a company spokeswoman said.
And, just like last year, the Marketplace at Steamtown will be closed on Thanksgiving.
This year, Steamtown will open at 8 a.m. on Black Friday. Mall operators encourage vendors to be open at that time, but it isn’t required.
Mall manager Jenn Warnetsky said the hours reflect a more traditional Black Friday shopping experience, but points out that Steamtown isn’t a traditional shopping mall anymore.
When he bought the then-failing mall in 2015, developer John Basalyga envisioned a lifestyle center — a model that creative business leaders across the nation are embracing to repurpose empty malls.
Inside Steamtown, an aquarium, a satellite college campus and specialty medical group now occupy space once held by diminished bricks-and-mortar titans such as Express, Hollister and Bon-Ton.
Like at Viewmont, Steamtown’s anchor retailer Boscov’s will open on Thanksgiving, close for a few hours, then reopen at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. A Boscov’s spokeswoman could not immediately say whether the same schedule applies to Boscov’s in Wilkes-Barre.
“It used to be that people only shopped on Black Friday,” Smith said. “I think realistically you could say that was the trend 20 years ago.”
Over the years, the total Black Friday experience broadened like never before.
It’s now a five-day affair spanning from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, which began over 15 years ago when online sellers offer their sweetest deals.
“So, what retailers are doing now is providing a variety of different promotions, sales, every single day to engage the different types of consumers that are shopping on those different days,” Smith said.
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