The madness of the holiday shopping season has come to this: It's no longer notable when a retailer says it will stay open on Thanksgiving Day. Instead, it makes headlines when one says it's going to close.
Warehouse chain Costco recently confirmed just that, explaining the decision as a thank-you to its workers. "Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families," a spokesperson told the Web site ThinkProgress. "Nothing more complicated than that."
The decision is in keeping with the ethos at Costco, which has long shrugged off Wall Street's complaints about how well it pays its retail workers (Costco even gave raises during the recession). A 2013 report put the company's average hourly wage at $20.89, far above the minimum wage. It showers employees with good benefits, from low health-insurance premiums to matching and profit-sharing contributions in their 401(k) plans.
And while longtime CEO James D. Sinegal left the helm in 2012, Costco appears to be sticking with its knitting under his successor, Craig Jelinek. The new CEO has spoken out publicly for an increase in the minimum wage and has pledged to maintain his predecessor's approach to employees. "If you treat consumers with respect and treat employees with respect, good things are going to happen to you,” he told Bloomberg BusinessWeek last year.
Costco's confirmation that it will close again this holiday stands in contrast to the recent trend of more retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving, starting the Black Friday shopping ritual before the turkey is even off the dining table. Last year Target, Kohl's, Macy's, Sears and J.C. Penney all opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. And Macy's recently announced that it would open even earlier this time around.
These retailers are hardly alone. Wal-Mart employees have long been working on Thanksgiving, more than 900 Old Navy stores were open during the holiday last year, and Kmart really went all-in — starting at 6 a.m. and staying open for 41 hours straight.
The moves to make Thursday the new Black Friday has drawn petitions, boycotts and plenty of questions about worker fairness and the effect on employee morale. It's also unclear whether the holiday openings will even help these stores in the long run. Though some data has shown an upside, retail consultants have warned that Thanksgiving sales could just cannibalize purchases that would have happened on Friday.
Of course, Costco is not the only retailer that won't open on Thanksgiving. Others, including Dillard's and Nordstrom, have said they won't either. Yet as more retailers join in making the day of thanks just another day to shop, it is these shuttered stores that are really starting to stand out.