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If you think Thanksgiving is for family, not shopping, these stores agree.
Even though it means missing an opportunity to gain sales, dozens of retailers are again taking a stand and keeping their doors shut to give their workers a break and their reputations a boost.
They're pushing back against "Black Friday creep," in which the historic kickstart to the holiday shopping and deal season has been getting earlier and earlier until stores started opening on Thursday.
According to a National Retail Federation survey, of those consumers who have or will go shopping during the Thanksgiving holiday times, 31.8 percent said they planned to go shopping on Thursday.
But they won't be showing up at any of these stores. The growing list of retailers staying shut on Thanksgiving this year includes American Girl, Barnes & Noble, Bed, Bath and Beyond, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Burlington Coat Factory, Costco, Crate & Barrel, Dillard’s, DSW, GameStop, Hobby Lobby, HomeGoods, Home Depot, Jo Ann Fabrics, Lowe’s, Marshalls, Nordstrom, Patagonia, Petco, Pier 1, Publix, REI, Sam’s Club, Sur La Table, Talbots, T.J. Maxx, and Von Maur Department Stores.
Last year, home improvement chain Menard's took out full-page ads just to advertise that they'll be closed on Thanksgiving.
Retailers who do keep the doors shuttered say they're recognizing the value of family.
"First, we want our associates to have that time to spend with family," said Tara Raddohl, a Sam's Club spokeswoman, "Second, our members have told us they want that day to spend with their loved ones."
It's so against the trend that one chain had to start sending out press releases just to deal with the influx of media attention they received for not opening on Thanksgiving.
“Some of life’s most cherished traditions begin with family and friends. As a family-owned business since 1872, we value most the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones on Thanksgiving and other holidays,” said Jim von Maur, president of Von Maur, an Iowa-based department store chain with 30 stores in 14 states, in the press release.
"The exceptional service and character our associates display day in and day out has been shaped by the likes of their parents, grandparents and friends," he said. "Giving them the opportunity to spend the holidays with those who have made such a lasting impact on their lives is a tradition we’ll never break."
Melody Wright, the store's Chief Operating Officer, questions whether stores that open on Thanksgiving are even making any more money.
"Most consumers say I have to spend X dollars and this is where I'm going to get it," she said. That amount is going to be the same whether it's spent on Thanksgiving, or four days before Christmas, she said.
A tiny camera hidden at the front door of over 1,000 retailers to count who comes and goes agrees. Last year, data from these ShopperTrak devices showed there was about the same number of shoppers going into stores on Thanksgiving as a normal Thursday in November, said company founder Bill Martin.
"They're getting sales on Thursday at the sacrifice of Friday, Saturday or Sunday," said Martin.
Because of the deals they have to offer to induce shoppers and because of overhead costs, "they're not making a lot of money as a result," he said.
Despite this, many stores, fearful that customers' wallets will be emptied by another store opening for Black Friday before they do, have continued an opening-hours arms race that accelerated during the recent economic downturn.
Target, Macy's, Kohl's, Sears and other retailers have announced opening hours of 6 p.m. J.C. Penney has tried to beat them all by opening at 5 p.m. This week, beleaguered electronics store RadioShack said they'll be opening at 8 a.m.
Their shoppers won't be visiting any of Von Maur's stores the same day. That's fine by Wright.
"If that means we make less profit on that particular day, we're willing to live with that," she said. "We've never been tempted that you would sacrifice the importance of family and holiday tradition and try to convince yourself that it will be more profitable."
Email Ben Popken email@example.com or tweet @bpopken.