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More retailers are staying home for Thanksgiving Day

It looks like some families will be spend more time with each other this Thanksgiving. That’s because some mall operators and retailers that had opened their doors on Thanksgiving Day in recent years are reversing that trend. It’s not just because they want to let employees enjoy the holiday with friends and family but also because the costs of opening on the holiday were bigger than the benefits.

CBL & Associates Properties (CBL), one of the country’s largest owners of malls, The Mall of America, electronics chains HH Gregg (HGG) and Office Depot (OPD) are among those having a change of heart this year.

Thanksgiving sales are still controversial with some consumers. At least two dozen other chains are keeping their doors shut on the holiday, including Home Depot (HD), Burlington Stores (BCF) and TJ Maxx (TJX), according to the deals website The Black Some chains such as Costco (COST) have never opened on Thanksgiving, the warehouse retailer said.

Mall of America will be closed on Thanksgiving

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and long the considered the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, has lost its luster in recent years, thanks to the surging popularity of shopping online and stores opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day, retail analysts have said. Consumers who went shopping on Turkey Day didn’t spend additional money overall but rather made purchases they would have made anyway on the following day, according to Amanda Nicholson, professor of retail practice at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management.

Companies started wondering: “Why are we putting our employees through this if there aren’t that many additional sales and all the stuff is available online anyway?” she said.

To be sure, some retailers still are eager to attract the Turkey Day crowd. CBL and Mall of America have said individual tenants like movie theaters and restaurants may open on the holiday. Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL said 19 of its 89 regional malls will stay open. 

Simon Property Group (SPG) plans to have its more than 200 properties, including Pennsylvania’s King of Prussia Mall, one of the largest in the U.S., ready for business on Thanksgiving, according to spokeswoman Maria Weber.

Macy’s (M), which is under pressure from Wall Street to bolster its bottom line, plans to open its physical stores at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, earlier than last year. They’ll remain open until 2 a.m. Friday and will reopen again at 6 a.m. Friday. The department store chain first opened its doors on Thanksgiving in 2013.

“Again this year, we surveyed our store associates well in advance, giving them an opportunity to tell us their preferences, and we are working diligently to staff Thanksgiving with associates who volunteer,” wrote Macy’s spokeswoman Holly Thomas in an email. “Doing so means that our employees are able to make their own decisions about how they contribute to our most important and busiest weekend of the year. Additionally, associates who work any shift on Thanksgiving Day will be compensated with overtime pay.”

Walmart (WMT), the largest retailer, started the Thanksgiving Day shopping tradition in 2011 when it began offering Black Friday deals at 11 p.m. on Turkey Day. A spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment on this year’s plans.

Target (TGT) and JC Penney (JCP) haven’t yet finalized their Thanksgiving Day plans, according to the companies. Both chains were open last year on the holiday.

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