So much for the end of Black Friday creep.
Macy’s (M) confirmed to Fortune on Monday that it will once again open its stores on Thanksgiving Day, and do itself one better than last year by greeting shoppers an hour earlier.
For a while this fall it seemed the tide was turning against “Black Friday” creep, a trend that saw retailers open earlier and earlier each successive year since the Great Recession in a fight for limited consumer spending. Indeed, last week, mall developer CBL said it would close 72 malls on Thanksgiving, and instead start Black Friday events on Black Friday itself for the first time since 2011. hhgregg (HGG), Staples (SPELLS) and Office Depot (OP) similarly are staying closed that Thursday.
It’s easy to see why Macy’s would resist that. The department store is going through its worst spell in year– comparable sales fell 2% – in the second quarter. And last year, arch-rival J.C. Penney (JCP) opened its doors at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving, giving it an edge on the start of the weekend that kicks off holiday shopping in earnest and is an early gauge of what’s working with customers, and what’s not. Indeed, Penney last year credited its earlier Thanksgiving hours, which gave it three hours in which its cross-mall rival Macy’s was closed, for strong fourth quarter results.
“In response to significant, ongoing customer interest in shopping on Thanksgiving, both at Macy’s and at many other retailers, we will be opening our full-line department stores at 5pm on Thanksgiving Day,” Macy’s spokeswoman Holly Thomas told Fortune in an email statement.
While the emerging consensus among retail analysts is that Thanksgiving hours don’t increase overall sales, the move is really aimed at not ceding any business to rivals that are open on Turkey Day. Still, many also argue that with the growth in online shopping, paying overtime, as Macy’s says it will, dents the profit from an extra business a retailer makes that day.