Taking a Page from BrandSource, Box Stores Are Going Dark for Thanksgiving

By Alan Wolf, YSN

  • Most BrandSource members have always remained closed for major holidays
  • This year, many retail chains will follow suit on Thanksgiving
  • Target, for one, is making the policy permanent

This Thanksgiving, many national retail chains are following BrandSource members in a tradition most have followed from the get-go: Staying closed on Thanksgiving.

For box stores including Best Buy, Walmart and Target, tomorrow’s lights-out policy follows last year’s decision to close for the holiday over COVID-19 safety concerns.

This year, retailers are facing further fallout from the pandemic in the guise of an acute labor shortage, and showing their appreciation for front-line workers is another way to help attract and retain staff.

As Walmart’s COO Dacona Smith said in reversing the discounter’s longstanding policy of regular Thanksgiving hours, “Closing our stores on Thanksgiving Day is one way we’re saying ‘thank you’ to our teams for their dedication and hard work this year.”

In contrast, BrandSource dealers didn’t need an outbreak to know that keeping employees from their families and friends on a national day of thankfulness is a non-starter. As Famous Tate’s General Manager Claude Ward told YSN, “Our people all work hard all year and to deny them and their families this special day to spend time together or just enjoy a day of relaxation has never been in question. One day of lost sales will not make or break a viable business and in the long run will pay dividends.”

Likewise, longtime Maytag Channel dealer and current YSN columnist Rich Lindblom kept his business closed for Thanksgiving and other important observations. “At my company, we didn’t care whether our competitors were open or not,” he said. “We closed the store on every major holiday so our employees could spend that time with their families. We would post a message on our website and social media accounts wishing our customers a happy holiday while letting people know we would be closed so our employees could enjoy the time with their loved ones.”

For Famous Tate, the Thanksgiving policy dates back to 1973, when owner John Horst first acquired the business. Since then, national chains have ping-ponged on the issue, first keeping the holiday sacrosanct, then opening either later in the day (Best Buy) or earlier than normal (Kmart) in response to competitors’ Black Friday inroads.

“Throughout the years the retail industry has gone through many cycles regarding Thanksgiving Day,” Ward observed. “Many have opted to be open with very long extended hours.”

This go-round, at least one box chain — Target — has decided to make the Thanksgiving reprieve permanent. “What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard,” CEO Brian Cornell told employees in a memo. He said the decision was based on feedback he received from workers while visiting stores, and on the company’s enhanced online capabilities.

To that point, some distribution and call center staffers will still be working the turkey shift at Target and no doubt elsewhere, as the Internet, for better or worse, is always open.

BrandSource, a unit of YSN publisher AVB Inc., is a nationwide buying group for independent appliance, furniture, mattress, and CE dealers.