Why Opening on Thanksgiving Day Is Actually Bad for Business

black friday shopping thanksgiving
Shoppers line up at a department store on Thanksgiving Day.
Rex Shutterstock

The latest research from consumer insights firm ShopperTrak suggests that the financial payoff for retailers that choose to open on Thanksgiving Day may not be as significant as some firms had initially expected.

ShopperTrak said it examined the impact of Thanksgiving store openings on retail traffic and found that operating on the holiday impacts primarily the distribution of traffic, rather than the overall traffic count.

Based on our findings, it’s clear that Thanksgiving Day openings may risk more in operating costs than in expanding sales opportunities. Not to mention, opening on Thanksgiving has serious implications on staff morale,” Field said. “This explains why certain retailers and malls, such as the Mall of America, are remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day and focusing their attention on Black Friday.”

For the past few holiday seasons, retailers have grappled with the decision of whether or not to open their doors a few hours ahead of Black Friday in a bid to cater to more consumers.

Although Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has long been the kickoff to the holiday shopping season, many retailers have gradually pushed back their hours of operation to encroach on the family-centric Thanksgiving holiday. While the ultimate goal has always been to gain a larger share of consumers’ wallets, the potential trade-off — disgruntled employees and a leery general public — has made the decision a tough one for many companies.

ShopperTrak also published its list of the anticipated busiest shopping days of 2016, and Black Friday claimed the top spot. Dec. 26 and Dec. 23 are expected to be the second and third busiest shopping days, respectively.