Black Friday Target

Target Won’t Be Open for Thanksgiving From Here on Out and I Hope Other Retailers Do the Same

No one needs to be open on a holiday before a major shopping day

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Target has announced that they won’t be open for Thanksgiving this year, nor will they be open on the holiday from here on out.

Unpopular opinion (I’m kidding, I know it’s not unpopular), but they shouldn’t have been open on Thanksgiving in the first place, nor should any retailer, really.

What is Brown Thursday?

In case you aren’t familiar with what’s been called “Brown Thursday,” it’s when stores are open on Thanksgiving to start Black Friday early (granted, if you get as many retail emails as I do, you know that there’s a Black Friday-like sale every weekend until Christmas and has been since, like, September). This practice began years ago when retailers got the not-so-big-brained idea of being open on Thanksgiving to generate more sales.

I might be a tad bit biased as someone who used to work retail when this became a thing, but it’s never really been a good idea, in my opinion, both from a “let retail employees fully enjoy the day off, damn” perspective and a business one.

Why this has never been a good idea

On top of having to rearrange your family dinner plans and sleep schedule so you can come into work on Thursday and, let’s be honest, the rest of the weekend, you suddenly found yourself facing a special kind of irate customer. I’d worked several Black Fridays before the initiation of this new tradition during such classic events as “why aren’t there enough Nintendo Wiis” and “the store said you had one in stock” but nothing quite prepared me for being blamed for ruining Christmas AND Thanksgiving because “now I have to go out on Thursday to buy (insert hot ticket item).”

There also wasn’t much of a boost in sales—if there even was one. “There is a fixed demand pool over the weekend and most retailers are not expanding that shopper base by staying open on Thanksgiving,” said Craig Johnson, president of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners in a 2018 article from Reuters. “They are just taking away sales from the rest of the weekend.”

I can attest to that, as that’s exactly what happened at my store when I worked the Thursday shift years ago. We were busy for the first couple of hours, as to be expected when you have a limited number of doorbusters, but once everything was sold out customers just … stopped coming. Normally, there would be a mix of folks who were there for the hot deal and folks who just wanted to shop, but that mix didn’t exist at 1 AM on Friday morning after the initial Thanksgiving rush died down.

It had a trickle effect on the weekend as a whole.

Johnson said Thanksgiving sales went up by $2 billion to $11 billion this year but that happened at the expense of not just Friday but the weekend. He said over a $1 billion in sales from Friday and Saturday moved into Thursday, describing the economic shift as the “demand pull-forward phenomenon.”

Bob Phibbs, chief executive of New York City based consultancy Retail Doctor, said many retailers have realized that it may not be worth it. They have started to understand that “you’ll take four days to make what you would have made in three days.”

Why Target is closed on Thanksgiving

This isn’t the reason why Target isn’t going to be open, though.

It’s because of COVID.

Last year, Target and many retailers decided to not be open on Thanksgiving because of the pandemic. According to CNBC, “Retailers last year were forced to turn what had become a weekend shopping blitz into an extended event with holiday sales beginning as early as October to limit the number of people in stores during the pandemic.”

Apparently, the shift led to a lot more sales for Target.

U.S. holiday sales in November and December rose 8.2% in 2020 from the previous year, according to The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group. The trade group predicts that this year could shatter last year’s record, growing between 8.5% and 10.5%.

“What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard — one that recognizes our ability to deliver on our guests’ holiday wishes both within and well beyond store hours,” Target CEO Brian Cornell wrote in a note to employees.

Wow, who would’ve thought that giving consumers more opportunity to spend their money, instead of dropping the major sales day on a holiday, would lead to more sales, I say sarcastically?

Other retailers that won’t be open on Thursday include the likes of Barnes and Noble, Ikea, Walmart, Best Buy, and more.

While I wish retailers would’ve figured this out without needing a global pandemic to force their hand, I do hope it leads to more places letting the holiday exist as a holiday so employees who are already working through the worst timeline can have a day to rest.

(Image: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

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Briana Lawrence
Briana (she/her - bisexual) is trying her best to cosplay as a responsible adult. Her writing tends to focus on the importance of representation, whether it’s through her multiple book series or the pieces she writes. After de-transforming from her magical girl state, she indulges in an ever-growing pile of manga, marathons too much anime, and dedicates an embarrassing amount of time to her Animal Crossing pumpkin patch (it's Halloween forever, deal with it Nook)