Open or Closed: The Thanksgiving Debate comes down to the Customer

thanksgiving debate

Over the past week the Internet has been in a rage – when is it not, really – but this time it’s about whether or not a private business decides to unlock its doors. Well, several private businesses, unlocking multiple doors and on a revered national holiday. Should retailers be open on Thanksgiving? CEO of 5WPR Ronn Torossian weighs in.

It should be simple to dismiss the legal question of “should.” If retailers want to be open, they have that choice. The moral question, too, should not be prohibitive. Some might consider it in bad taste, and other may even see it as disrespectful and sad, but “should not” cannot apply here on moral grounds. So, as with many things, it really boils down to public perception.

Working On The Holidays

Some argue that many other people have to work on holidays. First responders, medical professionals, cops and pro athletes all miss out on the option of taking Turkey Day off. So, why not retail associates?

Well, comes the counter argument, what purpose does it serve? Aren’t we choosing commercialism over family and tradition at that point? Interesting question on both sides. But, in the field of public relations, it really comes down to who you are trying to impress the most. Who is your customer base, and what do THEY want you to do?

Given this metric, it’s not surprising that stores such as Jo-Ann Fabrics and Home Depot chose to be closed on Thanksgiving. Their customers tend to be those who are more likely to want to be with family and friends than at the mall. However, when it comes to Macy’s and Kohl’s the market for shopping aficionados knows no bounds. They are catering to a group who salivates at the chance to work off the turkey and pumpkin pie with some deal hunting.

Debate Lessons

So what are the lessons embedded in this debate? Well, first, people will talk. Everyone does. But, for a business, the most important people to listen to will always be those who actually help you pay your bills. Keep them happy, and you’ve probably made the right choice.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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