The 2 Largest Mall Developers Are Opening Stores on Thanksgiving

October 24, 2016, 4:02 PM UTC
Retailers Offer Deep Discounts On Annual Black Friday Shopping Day
Customers pay at a cashier station in a JCpenny Store at the Newport Mall during Black Friday Sales on November 27, 2015 in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was expected that 135.8 million Americans would shop this Black Friday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation .(Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Photograph by Kena Betancur—Getty Images

Put to rest any idea that Black Friday Creep is being reversed.

The two largest U.S. mall developers, Simon Property Group (SPG) and General Growth Properties (GGP), are opening their shopping centers on Thanksgiving Day, dashing the hopes of many that the holiday would once again be a shopping-free day as it was just five years ago.

Simon, the No 1 developer with a portfolio that includes such prominent malls as Roosevelt Field near New York City, confirmed most of its properties will open at 6 p.m. on November 24. “We do not require our retailers to open but the majority to do so,” a Simon representative told Fortune. (Simon malls will typically close at 1 a.m. on Black Friday and re-open at 6 a.m.)

GGP, whose properties include Fashion Show in Las Vegas, also confirmed it was opening its malls’ doors on Turkey Day. “Our properties will be open this Thanksgiving to provide shoppers with comfortable and convenient experiences,” GGP said in a statement.

It’s not entirely surprising the malls would open. Macy’s, (M) desperate for a successful holiday shopping season amid its worst sales slump in years, last week said it was not only opening on Thanksgiving again, as it has since 2012, but opening earlier at 5 p.m. (Macy’s is a tenant at 75% of GGP malls, and 12% of Simon malls, according to Green Street Advisors. Department stores can open their doors even if a mall is closed, provided they have an external entrance.)

But many people who object to stores being open on a major holiday might have been holding out hope that “Black Friday Creep,” a phenomenon that has seen stores open earlier and earlier since 2011, was being reversed when regional mall developer CBL Associates (CAL) and the largest U.S. shopping center, the Mall of America, each recently announced they were closing for Thanksgiving. That hope was further stoked by the like of retailers Office Depot (ODP) and hhgregg (HGG) deciding to close on Turkey Day, in contrast to last year.

While the Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend is not the top period of holiday shopping (the weekend of panicked shopping right before Christmas is a higher grossing time), it does give stores an early read on shopper mood and preferences. So retailers are loath to risk being closed while rivals are open, meaning it’s not at all surprising to see the malls open their doors and let their tenants welcome Black Friday shoppers on Thanksgiving.


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