Black Friday 2016: This Year Could Mark The End Of Thanksgiving Shopping As Wave Of Stores Do Away With Early Hours

Black Friday 2016 could mark the end of what is known as the “Thanksgiving creep,” with a growing number of stores and shopping chains deciding to do away with Thanksgiving hours and restrict the shopping to Friday itself.

The trend away from Black Friday has been building for several years now, as stores began to make a statement in favor of their employees by remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day itself. There have been petitions calling on stores to cut back on the early hours and advocacy groups asking retail chains to give their employees a break — and it appears to be working.

Some stores have decided to reverse the trend of moving shopping hours earlier and earlier into Thanksgiving Day, and some retail experts believe it may reach a tipping point this year. As Fortune noted, many stores are taking a very close look at whether it’s worth it for them to offer early Thanksgiving hours for Black Friday 2016 — or even remain closed entirely.

Many are choosing the latter.

“Mall operators and brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling through an existential crisis for the critical holiday season: stay open on Thanksgiving in a bid to capture early sales, or cede the day and try to generate some positive buzz for their benevolence towards employees and shoppers.”

Seattle outdoor apparel retailer REI is going one step further. After announcing last year that all of its 149 stores would be closed both on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the chain once again decided to take both days off and made something of a strange announcement. The retailer told its employees and shoppers to put their wallets away and focus on family, Fortune noted.

And REI will have some company in remaining closed for Black Friday 2016. Many others are moving away from offering Thanksgiving hours, including the entire shopping mall chain CBL & Associate. The Tennessee-based chain announced last week that 72 shopping mall locations would be closed for all of Thanksgiving.

The nation’s largest mall made the same decision. As Fortune reported, the Mall of America announced that it would not be offering extended hours for Black Friday 2016.

“We think Thanksgiving is a day for families and for people we care about,” Jill Renslow, the mall’s senior vice president of marketing, told The Associated Press. “We want to give this day back.”

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It could be more than a goodhearted corporate gesture to end early hours on Black Friday 2016. As the Fortune report noted, earlier sales in November had an impact on Black Friday sales in recent years, chipping away revenue from what is a critically important weekend.

“Indeed, in 2014, sales on Thanksgiving/Black Friday fell 11%, primarily because retailers started their sales in early November, diluting the weekend’s impact. And last year, for the first time, more shoppers went online than to stores, mitigating the benefit to being open for so many hours.”

That is a sentiment common among retail experts. They note that the abundance of early sales that sometimes stretch to the beginning of November along with robust online sales after the Black Friday weekend have taken much of the steam out of the shopping holiday. Those online sales — including a bonanza on Cyber Monday — have allowed shoppers to avoid the big crowds and long lines of Black Friday.

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But though many retail chains and shopping malls are cutting out the Thanksgiving hours, the enthusiasm for Black Friday 2016 remains high among potential shoppers. There are already a number of leaked Black Friday ads circulating on the internet along with plenty of speculation about what electronics might be the featured hit this year.

[Featured Image by Joshua Lott/Getty Images]