This year, as local malls and shopping centers gear up for the holiday shopping surge that will hit its stride next week, nearly all major big-box retailers kept their opening times the same as last year, with most opening at or around 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening. J.C. Penney was an exception, moving up its opening time by two hours to 3 p.m. Thanksgiving afternoon.
But overall, the doomsday predictions by defenders of the sanctity of the Thanksgiving afternoon that all retailers would simply throw open their doors during the pre-dawn hours of the holiday morning have not come true — perhaps because retailers are discovering that opening earlier doesn’t translate into higher sales.
“People don’t have extra money to spend just because stores are open longer,” said Dave Duebber, general manager of the Dayton Mall, which will keep its same Thanksgiving Day/Black Friday hours as last year (6 p.m. on Thursday, 6 a.m. on Friday). “And it does cost these stores money to be open on a holiday.”
And although some retailers will stay open overnight Thursday into Friday, Duebber said traffic slows down considerably in his mall after 1 a.m. and starts picking up around 6 a.m. Friday.
“I think we’ve seen that 6 a.m. is the earliest shoppers are willing to come out” in large numbers on Black Friday, Duebber said.
But that doesn’t mean they’re not willing to start their holiday shopping early. According to the National Retail Federation’s Consumer Holiday Spending Survey, 56.6 percent of those celebrating the holidays had already started shopping by early November, up from 54.4 percent last year and up from the 49 percent who had started by this time in 2008, the first time NRF asked the question.
“Thanksgiving weekend shopping has evolved tremendously over the past few years and can no longer be seen as the ‘start’ of the holiday season, though there’s no question it’s still important to millions of holiday shoppers and retailers of all shapes and sizes,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “There is a real sea change happening in retail when it comes to the how, when, where, and why of holiday shopping. Consumers today are looking for great prices and value-add promotions earlier than ever before, and retailers have answered these demands in several different ways already this holiday season.”
“That said, many of the season’s best deals are yet to come, meaning there’s still plenty of shopping to be done over Thanksgiving weekend and in December when shipping promotions begin to ramp up.”
Holiday sales in 2014 increased 4.1 percent over the previous year, according to the retail federation. This year, the NRF expects sales in November and December to increase by a slightly lesser rate — 3.7 percent — to $630.5 billion. Another projection by global real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield predicted this year’s holiday retail sales would match last year’s 4.1 percent increase.
The Dayton area’s malls, shopping centers and restaurants are preparing for Thanksgiving-week shoppers in a variety of ways. Here’s just a small sampling:
• The Greene Town Center in Beavercreek will celebrate “Greene Saturday” this Saturday, Nov. 21, with a gift card promotion in which the first 1,000 eligible shoppers to bring a minimum of $100 in same-day receipts (dated 11/21/15) to The Greene Reward Center, located at 81 Chestnut St., will receive a $25 Greene Gift Card. There is a limit of one per customer. The The Greene’s stores, and the reward center, will open at 9 a.m. Saturday. A “Santa Arrival Parade” and tree-lighting festivities begin at 6 p.m. Saturday.
• The Mall at Fairfield Commons in Beavercreek is scheduled to open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, and will stay open until 1 a.m. that night. The first 200 shoppers to visit the mall’s Guest Services starting at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving night with any receipt dated Nov. 26 or Nov. 27, 2015 will receive a credit card-sized phone charger.
• The Dayton Mall: For every Dayton Mall gift card purchased between Nov. 27 and Nov. 29, the mall will donate $5 to one of four local non-profit organizations of the shopper’s choice.
• The Upper Valley Mall near Springfield will host “Santa’s Arrival” festivities from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. this Saturday, Nov. 21. A $100 gift card will be given away, and free breakfast items will be offered at the Village Coffee Cafe. Santa’s arrival via horse and carriage is scheduled for 10 a.m.
• The Town & Country Shopping Center in Kettering will host a “shop-local” event on Saturday, Nov. 28 with the Kettering Moraine Oakwood Chamber of Commerce. The KMO will offer bagels and coffee for shoppers at their office that morning, along with a bag containing coupons for different shops in Town & Country.
• The Cincinnati Premium Outlets in Monroe will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and will remain open until 10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 and will offer a complimentary shuttle starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday until 10 p.m. on Friday to pick up and drop off shoppers at Miami Valley Gaming off Ohio 63.
• The Miami Valley Centre Mall in Piqua is offering live music from the Swing Era Band from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and by the Mystic Winds Trio from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. this Saturday, Nov. 21.
• The Corner Kitchen restaurant, 613 E. Fifth St. at Wayne Avenue in the Oregon District in Dayton, will host a special brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 27. Proceeds from the brunch will go to Dayton Daily News Valley Food Relief, which benefits The Foodbank, a central warehouse facility for 96 local nonprofit food pantries, emergency shelters, and soup kitchens in Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties.