Shopping for Christmas gifts has become as much of a Thanksgiving week tradition as eating turkey or watching football.
The specifics for it have changed, with some stores experimenting with Thanksgiving hours before backing away from them. There are more “deals for days,” as one retailer calls them. Still, it remains the most wonderful time of the year for retailers, who see their biggest sales numbers in the fourth quarter every year.
“We love seeing the excitement of customers every holiday season, whether they are interacting with team members, filling their Christmas lists or shopping with kids excited about giving and receiving gifts,” Mark Campbell, the Lima store director for Meijer, said via email. “We bring holiday spirit to our stores with designated days for team members to dress up, like ugly sweater days, etc. and it’s always a joyous time here at Meijer.”
Americans anticipate spending an average of $932 on Christmas gifts this year, according to a Gallup poll.
Shopping on Thanksgiving
Last decade, many national retailers started opening their stores on Thanksgiving Day, trying to capture that Black Friday shopping magic a few hours earlier and grabbing the buyers’ attention and cash first.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many retailers backed away from that and returned to their previous ways of offering doorbuster sales the next day.
“It’s a thing of the past,” Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner said on NBC’s TODAY Show, after the retailer also closed on Thanksgiving in 2020 and 2021. “We’ll be closed again on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, all of our associates will be able to spend time with their loved ones this year.”
Stores with Thanksgiving hours in the Lima area include Dollar General, Meijer, Rite Aid and Walgreens. Most other stores will be closed.
That’s an increasing trend, said Jennifer Brogee, an assistant professor of business and entrepreneurship at the University of Northwestern Ohio and the CEO of The Meeting Place on Market in Lima.
“I think that Thanksgiving Day is going to be less important in-store,” she said. “I think stores are realizing that if they want to build goodwill, we really need to consider closing on Thanksgiving Day, both for the customer goodwill but also the employee goodwill. But the reason they can do that now is because they have that e-commerce side that’s going to keep growing and be strong on Thanksgiving Day.”
While 56% of Americans plan on doing some shopping online, according to a study by the National Retail Federation, it still only accounted for about 22% of holiday shopping in 2021. The remaining three-quarters of sales are still in person.
The goal for retailers is to have a good experience.
Beckman Jewelers on Main Street in Ottawa started buying for the holidays back in July. It doesn’t get into the doorbuster business, Greg Beckman said, but tries to have on hand what a buyer wants. About 21% of consumers want to receive jewelry this year, according to the NRF.
“I sort of bank on diamonds are always sellable,” he said. “If someone comes in my door and they’re not sure what they get they need, diamonds are usually a safe bet. If he’s shopping in a jewelry store and he wants jewelry, he already has jewelry on his mind.”
Participating in Small Business Saturday also helps draw people into the store, Beckman said.
Experiences are an opportunity for smaller retailers, Brogee said. The Meeting Place participates in the Dec. 3 Lima holiday festival.
“It’s just having fun experiences for customers,” she said. “I think that’s where small businesses can shine because small businesses can’t really beat Amazon pricing in most cases. But we can provide unique experiences and unique products that aren’t available in the big box stores and the Amazons of the world.”
The bigger stores
The R.P. Home & Harvest store on Cable Road in Lima stocked up on additional toys for the holidays. The former Stock & Field store is in its second holiday under its new company and planned a visit with Santa Claus from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 10, along with a 12-hour sale Dec. 23 for last-minute shoppers to get double rewards points, a company representative said.
“The Lima store specifically is one of our bigger stores, with a mix of merchandise and great selection,” the representative said. “They have great staff over there. We definitely have the core customers that have found us. We feel like there are still a significant population in the Lima area that just hasn’t quite discovered us or rediscovered us yet, and we sure are excited about welcoming them back in.”
There also aren’t as many supply chain issues as there were last year, the representative said.
Shoppers at Meijer should notice physical improvements there.
“We’ve recently remodeled portions of the Lima store, so we’re really excited about those areas having beautiful displays and a larger selection,” Campbell said. “Some of our shopping areas have also been expanded to provide more space and be more accessible, which is helpful during the busier shopping season.”
An earlier start
While Black Friday is the traditional start to the holiday shopping season, it’s not a hard and fast rule. The NRF reported 46% of consumers began browsing or buying before November for the holidays.
Many retailers, including Meijer, adopted that philosophy and added earlier deals.
“Meijer has added additional weeklong deals to go along with our two-day sale, so there’s lots of added value for customers no matter when they shop during the week of Thanksgiving,” Campbell said.
The push of consumers online also shifts the buying season a bit, although the largest single day of online sales last year was still Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, Brogee said.
“Even before COVID hit, the importance of in-store Thanksgiving Day shopping was already declining, and it had moved to online,” she said. “So I think we’re going to continue to see early sales. … It’s just going to be a long, drawn-out shopping season.”
A look at holiday hours for assorted stores with locations in the Lima area:
Ashley HomeStore: Closed Thursday, open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Best Buy, Findlay: Closed Thursday, open 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Dollar General: Open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday, open 7 a.m. Friday
Dunham’s Sports: Closed Thursday, open 4 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Five Below: Closed Thursday, open 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Gamestop: Closed Thursday, open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Harbor Freight Tools: Closed Thursday, open 7 a.m. Friday
Hobby Lobby: Closed Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday
JCPenney: Closed Thursday, open 5 a.m. Friday
Joann Fabric and Crafts: Closed Thursday, open 6 a.m. Friday
Kohl’s: Closed Thursday, open 5 a.m. Friday
Meijer: Open 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday, open 6 a.m.-midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Office Depot/OfficeMax: Closed Thursday, open 9 a.m. Friday
Old Navy: Closed Thursday, open midnight to 11 p.m. Friday
Petco: Closed Thursday, open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday
Pet Supplies Plus: Closed Thursday, open regular hours Friday.
Rite Aid: Open 8 a.m. Thursday, open 8 a.m. Friday
R.P. Home & Harvest: Closed Thursday, open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday
Sam’s Club: Closed Thursday, open regular hours Friday
Ulta: Closed Thursday, open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Walmart: Closed Thursday, opens 5 a.m. Friday
Tractor Supply Co.: Closed Thursday, opens 6 a.m. Friday.
Menards: Closed Thursday, open 6 a.m. Friday.
Walgreens: Regular store hours Thursday and Friday
Sources: Store websites and TheBlackFriday.com