Lewis Diuguid

Mall of America’s sign of the times: Closed on Thanksgiving Day

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., will follow a new trend of retailers staying closed in Thanksgiving Day.
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., will follow a new trend of retailers staying closed in Thanksgiving Day. The Associated Press

Let’s hope other retailers follow Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., in staying closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The gigantic shopping center said the decision was so workers could enjoy the holiday with their families. The shopping center had been open on Thanksgiving Day since 2012, following a trend of retailers trying to get the jump on others in pursuit of eager Christmas shoppers.

The day after Thanksgiving had been labeled Black Friday because of the spike in sales that retailers enjoyed, starting the holiday shopping period. That sprint to the end during the final quarter for the year is bread, butter and a lot of honey for retailers because about 30 percent of sales for the year occurs between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

In 2015, 74.2 million people shopped on Black Friday, The Balance reports. That number could be higher this year or maybe not.

But there is a huge downside to the five-year trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day to try to attract customers away from competitors. Fewer shoppers are actually going into the stores that open early and spending money, which is all that counts in the highly competitive retail business.

Brick-and-mortar retailers also have to contend with the growing attraction of online shopping without the hassles of crowds, long waits in checkout lines and the dreaded and always too high sales taxes.

Staying open on holidays forces stores to pay workers more to staff the operation. That eats into the bottom line, too.

What also comes back to bite is the sales shift to Thanksgiving from what would have occurred closer to Christmas. And with people being less dependent on credit cards since the Great Recession and watching more closely how they spend money during the holidays, the closer to Christmas that they get, the more likely they will wait until after the holiday for bargains or skip the sales altogether. So opening earlier doesn’t result in new sales and likely increases losses for retailers.

Yet, in the spirit of Thanksgiving — made for family togetherness, parades on TV, football and eating too much turkey with all of the trimmings — retailers like Mall of America are spinning their decision as favoring workers. Some retail employees had complained about not being off for the holiday.

Mall of America’s move could affect 14,000 workers at the shopping center and its many stores. Also closed will be the mall’s movie theater and its Nickelodeon Universe amusement park.

Because of its mammoth size, Mall of America is as much a global tourist attraction as it is a place where people shop.

Folks will just have to enjoy Thanksgiving without an outing to the mall.

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