Staying Closed on Thanksgiving Pays Off for Some Retailers

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It turns out that major retailers that closed their doors in observance of the holiday did not dissuade shoppers from spending -- quite the opposite, in fact.

Many die-hard shoppers are likely in a post-shopping coma, now that Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the top three shopping days of the year (in terms of volume), are finally behind us.

Thanksgiving, once a celebration of food and family, is now the third biggest shopping day of the year, according to digital analytics company SimilarWeb. Many retailers open their doors on Thanksgiving Day with early Black Friday bargains meant to encourage shoppers to kick off their holiday shopping with them.

But despite the popularity of opening to shoppers on Thanksgiving, a handful of retailers bucked the industry trend and kept their doors locked until Black Friday – or in REI’s case, until Saturday – giving employees and shoppers the opportunity to share the Thanksgiving holiday with friends and family.

Staying closed on Thanksgiving, like REI, TJ Maxx, GameStop, Nordstrom, PetSmart and Staples, may have helped sales, not hindered them, according to SimilarWeb. REI experienced a sizable hike in its holiday traffic online, with a 10 percent bump in traffic on its site on Thanksgiving and a whopping 26 percent increase on Black Friday, GeekWire reports.

“REI has a long history of being both good to its customers and its employees,” Paco Underhill, founder of New York retail research firm Envirosell, who has worked with REI in the past, said in October. “Americans are a little fed up with all of the Black Friday rigmarole, and REI was smart enough to have its finger on the pulse.”

REI wasn’t the only retailer rewarded for staying closed on the holiday. Shoppers took their dollars to other stores who kept their doors locked on Turkey Day.

GameStop’s site experienced a one-day Thanksgiving increase in web traffic of 132 percent, Staples had a 120 percent rise, PetSmart’s web traffic was up 69 percent, and both Nordstrom and Pier1 experienced a 54 percent one-day bump in online shoppers, according to SimilarWeb.

“In a year-over-year comparison this year and last year, the retailers who closed their stores performed better than their leading competitors,” said Pascal Cohen, digital insights manager for SimilarWeb in an email statement to GeekWire. “In addition, day over day they also performed better for visits.”

A National Retail Federation survey found that over the busy shopping trifecta weekend, nearly the same number of consumers shopped in physical stores as online, according to Reuters.

This could be an indication that traditional in-store Black Friday shopping frenzy could be coming to an end as more people opt to stay home and shop online rather than brave the crowds and craziness of shopping in physical stores.

According to GeekWire, online holiday sales were up 21.5 percent compared to last year.

Did you snag some bargain deals during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Did you reward stores that stayed closed on Thanksgiving with your shopping dollars? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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