Mall of America on closing for Thanksgiving: 'We want to give this day back' to families

Posted October 11

America’s biggest mall won’t be open on one of the country’s biggest shopping days.

As the Star Tribune reported, the Mall of America won’t be open on Thanksgiving Day. This decision comes amid rising tension between consumers and retailers about whether or not stores should be open on the family-centered Thanksgiving holiday. The Mall of America has encouraged other store owners to do the same and shut down on Turkey Day.

“We’ve been talking about this for months, looking at the numbers, looking at the pros and the cons,” Jill Renslow, the mall’s senior vice president of marketing and business development, told the Star Tribune. “We’re excited to give this day back to our employees so they can celebrate with their families.”

Renslow said the decision was mostly made to help families.

"We think Thanksgiving is a day for families and for people we care about," she told the Associated Press. "We want to give this day back."

The mall’s individual stores still have the option to remain open on the holiday, but the mall doesn’t expect that most stores will do so. This could mean that potentially 15,000 workers won’t have a chance to work on the day. Security guards and maintenance personnel will be asked to work on that day, though.

Marshal Cohen, a retail analyst with NPD Group, told the Star Tribune that he doesn’t expect Mall of America’s decision to make much of an impact nationally. He said that stores throughout the country will likely remain open in order to compete with other major retailers who do the same.

“Do I see the rest of the country doing it? No,” he said. “Do I see it going back in that direction? A little bit. I think some stores may realize that it may be an expense they may not want to have, but they’re also afraid to not do it.”

But Cohen told the Star Tribune that there’s little evidence that remaining open on Thanksgiving helps stores earn money on Black Friday weekend. So, he said, it could be good business sense to shut down for the day.

Last year, a handful of American retailers, like sporting gear store REI and video game giant GameStop, decided to shut their doors so that the holiday puts an emphasis on family, too, according to Time magazine’s Brad Tuttle.

Tuttle said that some retailers decide to close their doors on Thanksgiving as a marketing ploy, hoping that the positive message about closing on Thanksgiving will inspire shoppers to buy more products in the future.

Still, it seems like the trend to shop on Thanksgiving is on a downward slope. Over the last three years, Slate, Time and U.S. News all had writers advocate for less shopping on the major holiday. There have even been boycotts organized on Facebook to discourage people from shopping on the holiday, too.

And it seems data and experts are backing up the movement. Bill Martin, the founder of ShopperTrak, an analytics provider for retail companies, told WBNS10-TV last year that there’s momentum among shoppers not to purchase goods on Thanksgiving.

"This year I feel the pendulum is ready to swing in the opposite direction," Martin told WBNS-10TV. "There's a movement afoot through Facebook and Twitter about pledging not to shop."

But data from the National Retail Federation show that even though Thanksgiving was less popular than Black Friday in 2015, people still shopped on the day. While 34 percent of adults shopped on Thanksgiving, 72 percent shopped on Black Friday. Meanwhile, 39 percent shopped online on Thanksgiving, while 73 percent shopped on Black Friday.

To avoid shopping on Thanksgiving, shoppers have found a solution through online retailers. Shoppers will find online deals well ahead of the Thanksgiving Day weekend, too, keeping them from having to leave their homes on the family-focused holiday, according to the NRF.

“Holiday shopping started well in advance of Thanksgiving weekend this year, but there’s no question that people were still incredibly eager to get their hands on the deals that retailers were offering on electronics, apparel, toys and even small appliances,” Prosper’s principal analyst Pam Goodfellow said in an NRF press release. “The ease of online shopping through mobile devices now lets millions of people research what they want as well as make timely purchases any day of the weekend — a win-win for both retailers and shoppers.”

Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.


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