Staples was one of the big box stores that decided to open on Thanksgiving Day for the last two years, ensuring that at least some employees would have to be at work instead of celebrating at home with family and friends. But this year it’s decided to make a change.
Last week it announced that its stores will be closed on the holiday and will instead open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday. “We want our customers and associates to enjoy Thanksgiving their own way,” said Demos Parneros, the company’s North American president, in a statement.
Staples wasn’t alone in deciding to open its doors on the national holiday in recent years. Last year, 11 other brands — including Walmart, Macy’s, Gap brands, and Toys R Us — were open that day, requiring millions of workers to come in to staff their stores. While some claimed that those who showed up were all volunteers, some workers — including at Target and Kmart — said they weren’t allowed to ask for the day off and were threatened with termination if they were scheduled for that day but didn’t show up.
Other stores went public about wanting to stay closed and allow employees to enjoy the holiday at home. At least 18 shut their doors, citing reasons from “respect for our store associates” to wanting to “give our team a well-deserved holiday” to the fact that employees “deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”
It may also be a financial choice. While stores that opened on Thanksgiving were chasing higher holiday sales, that’s not how it panned out. More people shopped on Thanksgiving Day last year, but fewer shopped on Black Friday, simply shifting their consumption rather than increasing it. Public opinion has also been strongly against the idea of opening on a holiday.
There was even a backlash among lawmakers. A bill was introduced in California at the end of last year that would have required employers to pay double if they made employees work on holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, while similar bills cropped up in Ohio and Connecticut. Other states — Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island — already have “blue laws” that ban stores from opening on those holidays, and some have called for a national version.