Costco’s Call: Why Staying Closed on Thanksgiving is a Good Idea

Last year, Costco took a controversial stand by refusing to stay open during Thanksgiving, citing the need to dispel the trend of retailers opening earlier and earlier on the busiest shopping days of the season.

Wal-Mart, for instance, is open 24/7 (except Christmas), and will ask 1 million employees to show up to work on Thanksgiving. Kmart and Macy’s are also asking employees to come in at 6 am and 6 pm respectively on Thanksgiving Day, jumping ahead of their usual midnight Black Friday opening.

Kmart will remain open for 42 hours straight afterward — yikes.

Perception shift

Does 6 am on Thanksgiving Day sound like a shift anyone would want? How about a 4 am swing shift?

These are the questions Costco CEO Craig Jelinek considered last year when he took the risk of closing down on the biggest shopping days of the year. But as we know, Costco did not get put out of business and arguably have the most engaged employees in the country.

Their proof of concept worked, and this year almost two dozen major retailers are joining them.

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Who’s Who of who is closed

Forbes, Mental Floss, and ThinkProgress helped compile a list of retailers planning to give workers an actual break over their Thanksgiving break, and we think they deserve some recognition:

  • Costco;
  • DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse);
  • Nordstrom;
  • Dillard’s;
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club;
  • Burlington Coat Factory;
  • REI;
  • American Girl;
  • Crate & Barrel;
  • Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores;
  • T.J. Maxx;
  • Marshalls;
  • Pier 1 Imports;
  • Publix;
  • Sierra Trading Post;
  • Barnes & Noble;
  • Sam’s Club;
  • Home Depot;
  • Patagonia;
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond;
  • Lowe’s;
  • Talbot’s.

Old-fashioned ideas

The United States is also the only developed country that doesn’t guarantee that workers can take paid holidays, and we tend to work more than any other country in the world, which is probably how we got into this practice of keeping people apart on Thanksgiving.

Not forcing employees to show up at 6 am for Thankgiving is not only good for engagement, it’s the decent thing to do. BJ’s Wholesale Club CEO Laura Sen said it well: “Call me old-fashioned, but I feel that it’s an easy decision to make.”

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.

Cord Himelstein has helped HALO Recognition become one of the leading providers of employee rewards, recognition and incentive solutions. Since 2007, he has been responsible for leading the company’s strategic marketing initiatives and communications efforts. Cord works closely with customers to help them develop measurable workforce recognition strategies and create memorable experiences for their employees.

Cord is also a recognized thought leader in the human resources community, and is a regular contributor to the company's corporate blog, where his articles have enjoyed national exposure through major HR publications including SHRM, Workspan, TLNT, Smartbrief, and Entrepreneur. Prior to joining HALO Recognition, Cord worked in the entertainment industry for more than 15 years, where he held senior positions with Elektra Entertainment and EMI Music Group.



5 Comments on “Costco’s Call: Why Staying Closed on Thanksgiving is a Good Idea

  1. Macys is scheduled to open 6PM on Thanksgiving and their employees are scheduled to come in at 5:45PM not 6am as stated in the article.

  2. Sam’s Club is owned by the same people as Walmart. I wonder why Walmart’s owners think it is a good idea to let Sam’s Club employees spend Thanksgiving with their families and for Walmart employees to not spend Thanksgiving with their families. I can guarantee that the Waltons will be at home on Thanksgiving !

  3. There are plenty of non-retail companies and positions that must stay open for Thanksgiving. Restaurants will be open for example and they are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts but for those people who do not cook or shouldn’t cook. Some grocery stores are open for last minute purchases. Gas stations for travellers, plus lets not forget the NFL and related positions who make sure we all get to watch football all day long, most of these employees are not even in their home towns with family. My point is why the fuss on retailers. They are plenty of businesses and manufacturers that are open on this day. Why not boycott all of those companies and not watch any TV or news on the Thursday? Why do we not complain about those business?

  4. To me, some Holidays seem to be morning holidays or evening Holidays.
    1. New years day…pretty much a morning one, recovering from the night before
    2. Easter. If you are religious, you went to church in the morning, if you aren’t, kids tend to find the baskets and eggs in the morning, and by the afternoon, its starting to feel like a normal day.
    3. 4th of July. Pretty much an all day Holiday, parades in the morning til sometime in the afternoon, music events in the afternoon and evening, and fireworks at night.
    4.Halloween. Evening. Unless a few people dressed up at work, or brought snacks for the breakroom, not much is going on until the evening.
    5. Thanksgiving. Afternoon/evening Holiday. I can even see grocery stores open until mid afternoon, if you forgot to get some ingredient, you’re gonna find out now, the evening is time for a big dinner and time with the family, not jumping over everyone to buy a tv or having to show up for work.
    6. Christmas. Morning holiday. Pretty much the same as Easter, but swap the candy for presents. By the afternoon, its starting to feel like a normal day again.

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