That is the question.
Despite a boisterous backlash from some consumers, and a growing list of retailers that are taking the day off, a new survey from Accenture found that 50 percent of Americans still plan to shop on Thanksgiving, a jump of 5 percent compared with last year.
In fact, only 28 percent of the 1,537 U.S. shoppers surveyed online by the consulting firm in September and October said they believe Thanksgiving should be spent with family, rather than in the strip malls, which is down from 32 percent in 2014 and 41 percent in 2013.
Perhaps as a compromise, 42 percent said they will do their Turkey Day shopping online, while 40 percent plan to hit the stores.
But adding to the quandary is a contradicting poll by consumer shopping site BestBlackFriday.com, which found that a clear majority of consumers believe stores should remain closed on Thanksgiving Day.
According that survey, conducted by email among 1,140 customers between Sept. 28 and Oct. 16, 47 percent of shoppers favor stores remaining closed on the family holiday, compared with 34 percent who believe they should be open for business, and 33 percent who said they plan to shop in stores or online that day. Another 19 percent were undecided.
“Opening on Thanksgiving is anti-family, anti- American,” Lester wrote. “This is one national holiday that is for all Americans, regardless of religious background, to spend with loved ones.”
Similarly, GameStop’s U.S. stores president Mike Buskey, in announcing that the chain would be closed on Thanksgiving, explained that “We believe strongly that our customers and associates should have the opportunity to spend the Thanksgiving holiday relaxing with family and friends. We know this is in stark contrast to what many other retailers are doing, but we are taking a stance to protect family time during this important holiday.”
While cynical observers suggested that GameStop’s move was an expedient way to sidestep the day’s big-box competition, it followed similar high-profile declarations by Staples (“We want our customers and associates to enjoy Thanksgiving their own way,” said North American stores/online president Demos Parneros) and REI. Indeed, the sporting goods chain is taking things one step further by closing on Black Friday as well.
Family values aside, there may also be some promotional hay to be made in the new closed-for-the-holiday ethic. As Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and senior research director of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), observed, “Closed on Thanksgiving is the new open on Thanksgiving.”