1. Why have stores decided in recent years to open on Thanksgiving?
The desire to be open on Thanksgiving is an artifact of the “race to zero” nature of retail. As is common in a mature industry, major retailers are focused on being the low cost provider (De Kluyver & Pearce, 2012). Major retailers have tried to push the success of Black Friday to earlier and earlier times in the hope of catching early holiday dollars. Naturally, this has spilled over into Thanksgiving as retailers push this envelope.
2. What are the strengths and weaknesses of opening on Thanksgiving?
There are two primary strengths to being open on Thanksgiving. The first is early access to holiday shoppers. Capturing those holiday dollars before the competition leads to increased market share as holiday shoppers run out of spending money earlier in the season. Additionally, many shoppers are off from work on Thanksgiving as it is a national holiday. This means even more shoppers are available on Thanksgiving than any other day before Christmas Day. Unfortunately, the holiday is also its own major weakness. Many companies offer additional pay for holiday workers. This means that operating costs are higher on holidays.
3. In your view, is it worth it to open on the holiday?
As a manager, I would prefer that my employees not work on holidays. The retail industry has especially grueling work schedules considering most stores are open seven days a week. When employees have an opportunity for a holiday, I would prefer they were able to spend it in the manner of their choosing. In my experience, employees appreciate the opportunity to decompress. This seems especially important in the retail industry right before the holiday shopping season.
4. What happens to sales if certain retail stores decide to close Thanksgiving?
Retail stores that are closed on Thanksgiving run the risk of losing sales to competitors. This is how sales in a low-cost provider industry like retail works. Customer loyalty is often very dependent on price and availability. In the case of a holiday, availability often trumps price. In other words, although there may be more attractive deals on Black Friday, it’s perfectly normal for customers to spend a bit more for the convenience of shopping on Thanksgiving.
5. Come up with a unique solution to get sales on Thanksgiving while giving most retail staff the opportunity to spend the holiday with their families.
Ecommerce provides a perfect solution for holiday shopping. Operating an ecommerce presence requires a very limited staff. Additionally, that staff is not limited by location like retail staff. Therefore, a company that wishes to encourage sales on a holiday while still giving their retail staff the day off merely needs to direct customers to their online storefront. If customer interaction is still necessary, retailers have the opportunity to outsource that service to an area where the holiday is not in effect. In the case of Thanksgiving, retails can use customer service representatives in Canada or Mexico and still have those representatives working normal business hours.
De Kluyver, C. & Pearce, J. (2012). Strategy: A View From the Top (4th ed.). Boston: Prentice Hall.