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Oak Park Mall will skip Thanksgiving Day shopping to restore Black Friday’s status

Oak Park Mall shoppers will have to wait until Black Friday to kick off their holiday shopping this year. The mall’s owner is keeping the stores closed to shoppers in hopes of restoring Black Friday’s traditional status.
Oak Park Mall shoppers will have to wait until Black Friday to kick off their holiday shopping this year. The mall’s owner is keeping the stores closed to shoppers in hopes of restoring Black Friday’s traditional status. cochsner@kcstar.com

Oak Park Mall, and 71 other enclosed malls owned nationwide by CBL & Associates Properties Inc., will be closed to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day in hopes of restoring Black Friday’s fading status.

“Over the last few years, we’ve watched as the magic of Black Friday has been diminished by an earlier start to the holiday shopping season. Gone are the days of waking before dawn to hunt for deals and doorbusters. Well, not this year,” said a message from CBL’s CEO on the Oak Park Mall’s website. Oak Park Mall is one of the largest shopping centers in the Kansas City area.

CBL’s website said its “market-dominant regional shopping centers” would open at 6 a.m. Friday, Nov. 25, but not on Thanksgiving Day. It said the decision to close on the holiday was based on “feedback from our mall employees and retail partners as well as input from our shoppers.”

The Friday after Thanksgiving had been the unofficial start of retail’s busiest weeks, but some retailers began to open late on the holiday to attract shoppers ahead of the competition. Some shoppers took to the opportunity, and others said Black Friday began to lose some of its excitement.

“This should be packed,” Lee’s Summit shopper Robin Wankum told The Star while gesturing at a J.C. Penney aisle on Black Friday two years ago. “This is like a regular shopping day. It’s not the same excitement.”

Zona Rosa in Kansas City pulled the plug on Thanksgiving Day shopping in 2014, general manager Rosemary Salerno said. The shopping district allows individual stores to decide whether to open but common areas are closed, though security remains on duty.

“We had sensed this was a growing trend,” she said. “There was a lot of just-say-no to Thanksgiving.”

A number of area shopping venues officially will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, though individual stores and restaurants may decide to be open.

These include the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City and the Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kan. The Plaza traditionally is not open as a district on the holiday, but this will be the first year the Legends Outlets won’t be open officially on Thanksgiving Day since 2009.

Red Development’s two shopping centers in Lee’s Summit, Summit Woods Crossing and Summit Fair, and its Adams Dairy Landing will be closed for shopping on Thanksgiving Day, though individual retailers may be open.

Independence Center, a Simon Property Group mall, said it will be open from 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day to 1 a.m. on Black Friday, according to its website. It will reopen at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

Zona Rosza still gets a bit of a jump on Black Friday with its Orange Wednesday events. Specials and prizes begin at 6 pm. on the Wednesday before the holiday, and the shopping district remains open an hour later than normal that night.

Oak Park Mall’s holiday from holiday shopping this year isn’t expected to hurt total sales for the season, said Stacey Keating, CBL & Associates’ director of public relations.

“We were really just spreading out sales over two days,” Keating said.

The company’s open-air shopping centers, which lack common areas, are leaving the Thanksgiving Day decision to individual retailers.

CBL & Associates’ decision followed a similar announcement by the Mall of America in Minnesota, which said early this month it would remain closed to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day after first opening for the holiday in 2012.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar

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