Costco: Workers "deserve" to have Thanksgiving off

The biggest U.S. warehouse-club chain is holding firm on Thanksgiving.

While other retailers are opening their doors on the American holiday, Costco (COST) told ThinkProgress that it will remain closed on Turkey Day because employees "deserve the opportunity" to spend the day with their families.

That position increasingly makes Costco an outlier amid a push to kick off the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving, with major retailers such as Macy's (M) and Walmart (WMT) opening their doors on the Thursday holiday, which this year will fall on Nov. 27. With consumers expecting the same type of availability from bricks-and-mortar retailers as they find at Amazon, the trend of ringing up sales on Thanksgiving may only find more converts, analysts note.

Costco didn't immediately return a request for comment.

In 2013, stores including Macy's, Kohl's (KSS), JC Penney (JCP) and Sears (SHLD) either opened or offered Black Friday sales at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. This year, Macy's plans to push back its Black Friday sales to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, following a record customer turnout last year at its Herald Square store in Manhattan during its first-ever holiday opening.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas chief executive John Challenger recently told CBS MoneyWatch that more retailers will follow suit, as they seek to get their customers' wallets to open earlier in the holiday shopping season.

But critics note that the practice forces employees to choose between their families and making extra money, or may simply feel pressured to work by their employers.

Some stores are pushing back against the trend, and that may win those retailers some loyal fans. On Twitter, Costco's statement gained fans, with one person writing, "See? It really isn't that hard to be decent."

"Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that," a Costco representative told ThinkProgress.

Costco's stance plays into its image as an employee-friendly corporation, with Businessweek describing it as "the happiest company in the world," thanks to higher-than-average retail wages and better benefits.

Other stores also planning to resist the Thanksgiving retail kickoff include Nordstrom, Dillard's and TJX (TJX).

Americans, for their part, appear split on the practice. About one in five consumers believe Thanksgiving Day shopping provides a fun activity on the holiday, according to a survey from coupon site RetailMeNot. At the same time, about half of Americans disapprove of retail stores hawking their wares on the holiday, according to a University of Connecticut poll from last year.