Though many of the big box stores now open for Black Friday at some point on Thanksgiving, some retailers and mall owners have fought back against this trend. For the second year in a row, one of the nation’s largest mall operators has declared that its properties’ doors will remain shut this Thanksgiving.
CBL Properties is a real investment trust that operates more than 60 malls around the country. The company made this same decision last year and believes it was the right thing to do.
The shutdown only affects the interior stores of these malls. Anchor stores, movie theaters, or other tenants with their own exterior entrances will be allowed to decide whether they want to open for business.
“We had such overwhelming support from last year’s decision,” the company’s chief executive, Stephen Lebovitz, told CNBC (warning: video that auto-plays on that page) in an interview. “We felt validated by that. It was the right thing to do.”
Kmart has opened early on Thanksgiving Day for decades now, and its sibling retailer Sears tried opening on the holiday for the first time in 2010. Competitors joined in until entire malls opened on the holiday, with all tenants forced to open whether they wanted to or not.
Nationwide chains that have already confirmed plans to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day include Academy Sports, Burlington, Costco, DSW, Home Depot, Marshalls, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, and TJMaxx.
Changing role of malls
It’s not just malls’ holiday hours that are changing: CBL’s decision is a reminder of the changing role of malls in general. Being a shopping emporium is no longer enough: Malls are working to find experiences that can’t be duplicated on Amazon, and turning spaces that used to be clothing or sporting-goods stores into places where you can buy experiences, like spas, rock-climbing gyms, and restaurants.
CBL itself is currently rebranding its malls as town centers, and letting employees stay home on a holiday shows plenty of community spirit.
“Our properties are not just about retail or shopping — they serve as gathering places for their respective communities,” CEO Lebovitz told CNBC.