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Millennials May Be Saving Thanksgiving

Even though the World Series has not yet begun, retailers are as prepared as ever for the holiday selling season.

I have been reading, with plenty of interest, the plans of national chains and local retailers for their Black November, Black Thanksgiving or Black Friday plans.

It’s interesting to see that more retailers are deciding to buck the trend of the past few years and not open on Thanksgiving Day, whether it’s for business reasons, good PR or good employee relations — or all three.

Bravo to them. I think it is part of a trend to become more “worker friendly” and act like they are local retailers.

Related: These Retailers Have Said They Won’t Open On Thanksgiving

Maybe because I live in New York, but P.C. Richard & Son — a privately-owned local retailer — has always been the standard bearer for not opening on Thanksgiving Day, and has been running ads in the local papers highlighting that fact for at least the past two decades. The ad usually says that it is closed for its employees to enjoy the holiday with their families.

Now national chains like hhgregg, Staples and BJ’s Wholesale Club are joining the Thanksgiving Day movement — to stay closed.

What’s behind the change of strategy? I have a few educated guesses. One is that since we are in a “Black November” promotional period, there are more days for retailers of these categories to hold a traditional Black Friday.

Online and mobile sales, even for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, will make up part of the slack for those brave retailers that have decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving shopping via their PCs or smartphones.

But I think millennials are a major factor behind the trend to “shop local,” support local businesses and reduce ties with large corporate entities of all types, including retailers.

Sure, millions of millennials are Amazon Prime users for things like commodities of all types, and Amazon will dominate sales of all retail items this holiday season.

But millennials have begun to realize that supporting local stores and start-ups is good for the economy and they will get better service — and maybe comparable pricing — from the entrepreneurs in the neighborhood. Why? Many millennials have had to start their own businesses since the Great Recession of 2008 to support themselves and don’t like the corporate rush to make every holiday an economic bonanza.

When the dust is settled on this holiday season, it will be interesting to see if retailers that stayed closed on Thanksgiving were financially hurt by their decision; if those retailers that were open really benefitted; and if millennials may have helped reverse a trend and actually celebrate Thanksgiving without making it a shopping day.

Steve Smith is editor at large of TWICE and was its longtime editor in chief.