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.