Communicating the Value of Thanksgiving

Communicating the value of Thanksgiving: That was easy.

We had a business breakfast this morning in a local diner, which is known for good, homemade food. A regular item on the menu at The Miss Portland Diner is the house roasted turkey sandwich. Yes, they roast their own turkey, whip their own Maine potatoes, and make their own stuffing, so you know that they’d make a heavenly Thanksgiving dinner.

But the signs posted around the restaurant this morning reminded patrons that Miss Portland regrets she’s unable to lunch on Thursday. The owners want their employees to be with their own families on Thanksgiving, and they said so.

Good for them.

While many people are just as happy to go out to dinner or go shopping and skip the potential tension that comes with a family holiday meal, many more would rather stay home than wait on strangers on Thanksgiving.

There is value in Thanksgiving. What kind of value depends on who you’re talking to.

The reality is that retailers, restaurateurs, and hoteliers look to the holiday shopping season as a make or break moment. Holiday sales, which for better or worse, begin in earnest at Thanksgiving, can amount to between 20 and 40 percent of a retailer’s annual sales. The history of holiday shopping and the evolution of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday shows the ever-greater focus on commerce and profits.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against profits. But do we really need Staples to be open on Thanksgiving? No, we do not. And after a couple of years of chasing the extra money thought to be made on Thanksgiving, Staples has decided this year, it will be closed. The expected sales generally did not materialize, so this year, Staples decided employees will be home. That was easy.

It’s not easy, however, for every retailer to hew to the moral value of Thanksgiving. If all your competitors are open, do you forfeit a piece of that pie? Some do, some can’t afford to, and some don’t want to. (Retailer REI has taken Thanksgiving closure a step further by shunning Black Friday.

The Knight Canney Group is based in Maine, where our so-called “blue laws” keep large retailers shuttered on certain holidays. But smaller stores have a decision to make.

Decisions also are in the hands of consumers. Some shoppers will actively avoid stores that make their employees work on Thanksgiving, and support those who don’t.

Want to communicate your own value of Thanksgiving? Here’s a list of national retailers who will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.


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