Photograph by Andrew Burton — Getty Images
By Phil Wahba
October 29, 2015

Macy’s (M) is opening on Thanksgiving Day for the third year in a row, as the department store leaves nothing to chance in what is already shaping up to be a hyper-competitive holiday season.

But the good news is that the store will open at 6 p.m., as it did last year, suggesting we may be at the end of “Thanksgiving Creep,” which in recent years has seen store opening hours move from the morning of Black Friday to the evening of Turkey Day as retailers try to get whatever piece they can of the slow growing retail pie.

The retailer, which reported an unexpectedly sharp 2.1% drop in comparable sales last quarter and lowered its full year sales forecast as a result, needs to do well during the upcoming Christmas season. Everyone from Amazon.com (AMZN) and Walmart (WMT) to Kohl’s (KSS) and Target (TGT) have already said they would fight hard on prices this season against the backdrop of anemic U.S. retail sales in recent months.

Macy’s first opened on Thanksgiving in 2013, with stores opening at 8 p.m. It was one of many retailers that year to break what until then had been a quasi-sacred practice of keeping Thanksgiving as a day off and starting Black Friday deals on, well, Friday. (Walmart has long been open on Thanksgiving, largely because it is the nation’s largest grocer. Last year, it started its Black Friday promotions in the late afternoon of Thanksgiving.)

While retailers like GameStop (GME), Staples (SPLS), and REI have made a big deal of being closed on Turkey Day (REI is going a step further by closing on Black Friday), Macy’s cannot afford to ignore what its department store and general merchandise rivals are doing, especially given the outlook for the season.

Customer Growth Partners forecast “anemic” sales growth of 3.2% for the holiday season, blaming slow wage gains. But in one bit of encouraging news, the consultancy has predicted that apparel, Macy’s bread and butter, should fare well this Christmas period.

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