Hhgregg vows to close its stores for Thanksgiving

Retailer joins dozens of stores in move
Hhgregg vows to close its stores for Thanksgiving
Posted at 12:08 PM, Oct 11, 2016

NEW YORK (AP) — Consumer electronics chain hhgregg Inc. has become the latest retailer to take a stand against Thanksgiving shopping and plans to close its doors for the turkey feast.

The Indianapolis-based chain with 220 stores in 19 states says it's important for its associates to be home with their families on Thanksgiving. But the retailer also says it makes good business sense too as it's not getting a huge spike for that day. It noted that its online site will continue to offer lots of deals on Thanksgiving. It will re-open at 7 a.m. on the Friday after the turkey feast.

"It's gotten consistently tougher for our employees," Bob Riesbeck, president and CEO of hhgregg, told The Associated Press. "We felt there was a way to do this without opening on Thanksgiving."

Riesbeck also told The AP that he's been spending a lot of time in the local markets and talking to store managers, and he believes that the chain can do "exceedingly well" during Thanksgiving week without opening on the holiday. He noted that Black Friday sales have spread out earlier and earlier into the week and he says that hhgregg's Thanksgiving business has actually declined over the last two years. Black Friday remains its biggest sales day, he noted.

"It's time to stop the madness," Riesbeck said.

The Friday after Thanksgiving had long served as the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season. But over the past several years, Thanksgiving has become the new tradition as malls and stores try to outdo each other to get their first dibs on shoppers at a time of increasing competition from online retailers. Many major retailers like Macy's, Target and Kohl's have opened increasingly earlier on Thanksgiving. But the move has been controversial as many workers have complained that stores are putting profits over workers' time to be with their families. And in a tighter labor market, stores also have to work harder to retain its workers.

In 2011, hhgregg, which sells major appliances like washers and TVs, as well as opened at midnight on Thanksgiving and then in the following years it opened earlier into the Thanksgiving feast for 24/7 shopping. For the past two years, it opened at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving, closed at midnight and then re-opened Friday at 7 a.m.

Last week, Mall of America, based in Bloomington, Minnesota, said it will close for Thanksgiving this year. The mall opened for the first time on Thanksgiving at midnight in 2012 and then in 2013 it opened at 8 p.m. For Thanksgiving 2014 and 2015, the mall opened at 6 p.m. Mall of America's move could impact 14,000 employees who work at the mall or at one of its tenants. The number includes 1,200 mall employees. Still, Mall of America said some of its tenants may choose to be open on Thanksgiving. So it will have security and other key personnel on duty to ensure smooth operations.

Office supplies retailer Staples Inc. announced last month that it will close on Thanksgiving for the second year in a row, though it will offer deals on its website. There are plenty of stores that have remained closed for Thanksgiving including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. Many department stores and discounters have not made their strategy for this year's Thanksgiving weekend public yet.