Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving when stores open early and thousands of shoppers go nuts—is ceding ground to “Gray Thursday,” with major retailers like Macy’s, Walmart, Kohl’s, and Target staying open for business on Thanksgiving Day itself.
To open on the most important family-oriented American holiday is tough on employees, who must themselves forego family time. Macy’s defense for opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving is that most of the shifts are filled voluntarily by employees who’d rather have time off on Black Friday.
But surely they will feel a twinge of jealousy for employees at stores closed on Thanksgiving. These include: Costco, Barnes & Noble, Sam’s Club, Home Depot, Nordstrom, TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, DSW, Pier 1 Imports, Burlington Coat Factory, Petco, Radioshack, GameStop, Patagonia, REI, Dillard’s, and American Girl.
There are several good reasons a store might close for Thanksgiving. One is that stores get a reputational bump that could ultimately bring in more shoppers for the holiday season. Another is that closing on Thanksgiving can improve sales on Black Friday. In fact, opening on Thanksgiving might actually be bad business: income derived on that day is often at the expense of Black Friday, not in addition to it.
None of this is an issue if you live in Rhode Island, Maine, or Massachusetts—where laws dating back to the 17th century make it illegal for retailers to open on Thanksgiving. Employees there may want to take a moment to thank the Puritans.