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Simon’s decision to open malls on Thanksgiving draws criticism

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Simon Property Group Inc. has become the target of an online petition drive urging the mall owner to rethink its decision to open most of its properties on Thanksgiving.

Locally based Simon traditionally has opened its malls to shoppers at midnight on Black Friday. But this year the bargain hunting will begin four hours earlier, at 8 p.m., as large retailers strive to get an earlier jump on holiday shopping (and capture dollars consumers might otherwise spend online).

Simon’s decision, however, isn’t sitting well with employees of stores located in Simon malls who will likely be working on Thanksgiving.

A petition started by Amber Baumgart of Green Bay, Wis., has attracted more than 18,000 signatures. Baumgart, who describes herself as a 7-year retail employee, sent a message to Simon expressing her concern about the longer hours. Her petition is posted on change.org.

“My store has a staff of 6,” she wrote. “So basically you’re asking all of us to therefore put in a 12+-hour day. Absolutely ridiculous.”

In an update to the petition, Baumgart wrote that her store, which she does not name, has since decided to push back its opening to midnight.

Most stores in Simon malls will be open for more than 24 hours, according to a memo from a mall manager in Rockaway, N.J., that’s circulating online.

The memo says that to best serve shoppers, and to keep in line with the department store hours, the mall will remain open from 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving through 10 p.m. the next day, Black Friday.

“This being a change from past seasons we wanted to provide you with enough lead time to schedule your staffs accordingly and as a friendly reminder all tenants are expected to follow the holiday schedule,” the memo said.

Simon spokesman Les Morris said the mall operator can’t force its tenants to open on Thanksgiving, though he expects most of them will.

“Our holiday schedule is designed to meet customer needs and reflect changing consumer behavior,” he said. “We feel, and the retailers feel, that extended holiday hours provide customers better access to all the great deals at the malls.”

Simon owns 158 regional malls in the United States and has interests in 325 properties, including premium outlets, around the world.

Locally, Castleton and Greenwood Park malls will open at 8 p.m., while outdoor shopping centers Clay Terrace and Hamilton Town Center will open at midnight. The Fashion Mall and Circle Center won’t open until 7 a.m. on Black Friday, said Morris, noting that there are exceptions to the 8 p.m. directive.

Macy’s, a Simon mall tenant, was the first large retail chain to announce that its stores will open at 8 p.m., starting a trend that others would follow.

Big-box retailers such as J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Sears, Target and Wal-Mart all are opening at that time.

Most retailers have no choice but to follow the trend, for fear of losing out on holiday sales that already are expected to be soft, said Richard Feinberg, a Purdue University professor of consumer sciences and retailing.

He predicts retail sales this season won't be as strong as last year's, forecasting sales ranging from flat to 5 percent lower than last year, he said in a report issued in October.

Consumers spent roughly $590 billion during the 2012 holiday retail season, making up about 20 percent of annual retail sales and 35 percent of profit, according to Feinberg.

Retailers opting to open earlier simply are responding to demand, Feinberg said.

“They’re trying to grab my dollar and your dollar before someone else grabs that dollar,” he said of the earlier store openings. “There’s nothing more motivating than blockbuster sales.”

Of course, another factor is fierce competition from online shopping sites such as Amazon.com that are always open.

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  • Scrooge Redux
    There is more to life, Thanksgiving, and Christmas than business profits. A healthy economy and a healthy business need healthy, satisfied, and supportive workers, customers, and families. A healthy nation, society, and people give thanks for what they have on such holidays rather than forcing their employees to carry out a scheme to get more, and more, and more. After all, how do you know what you want if you don't Know what you have?
  • Desperate Retailers
    I don't think shoppers were calling stores and demanding Thanksgiving day hours. It starts with one or two large retailers trying to gain an advantage, and spreads like wildfire because everyone else thinks they will lose out if not open. Tranditional 'after' Thanksgiving sales will be a thing of the past, unfortunately.
  • Independence Square will not be open!
    The name/title of this story is incorrect. The Independence Square is not associated with Simon Malls in any way, shape or form and is not participating or joining the bandwagon on being open for Thanksgiving. The Independence Square retail businesses will be closed for Thanksgiving to give thanks and spend quality time with family and friends. I believe the correct name for the mall in this article is the "Independence Center" and NOT the "Independence Square". These are two totally different locations in Independence! Happy Thanksgiving!
  • So gerry...
    Your theory is that the media forces the shoppers to show up…? Wow. I guess the media creates the embarrassing Black Friday stampedes, too. And here I thought we had free will.
  • Media frenzy
    Yes there is 'demand' for these holiday hours. but it seems as though a lot of it is created by all the free publicity given by local tv news media. They love to keep telling us who will (gasp!) be open on Thanksgiving, and will have their reporters at every mall on that day.
  • Demand creates supply, folks
    While I'm generally happy to join the "corporatist greed sucks" parade, we do need to realize that Simon is opening because there is demand for them to be open. If consumers eliminate that demand by not showing up, then Simon will not be open on Thanksgiving next year. Simple as that.
  • Values
    There are a few stores (Costco and Crate & Barrel come to mind) that consistently stay closed on holidays, but they are few and far between.
  • Its not all about the customer
    Maybe retailers should consider their customers that do not celebrate Christmas and stay open Christmas day? Doesn't this follow the logic that they should always cater to the customer and the heck with the holiday? At some point you have to draw the line and honor a few holidays. BTW I would like to buy wine on Sundays while grocery shopping, but I don't have that convenience. Just saying.
  • Commerce will make it thur the holidays
    Both at a personal and professional level, I regret the ongoing disregard for the significance of the traditional family holidays.
  • Well Said!
    I agree with everything you said!
    • UPS/USPS
      I love the outrage at the retailers, but where is your outrage at UPS/FedEx/USPS? I worked for 5 years for UPS as a driver and had to work almost every Christmas morning just so little Timmy could get that present that grandma forgot to send out ahead of time. No, I'm not bitter about missing Christmas morning with my family. I know this happens at FedEx and USPS as well. Where is your outrage at those institutions?
    • Greed
      Some people have to work these jobs because there is no alternatives. So Pete get a clue! The economy sucks and apparently do does corporate values. This is all greed and sets a bad course ahead. Sorry Pete if your a cold hearted person and only care about yourself.
    • Small Marv
      Marv, this is the first coincidence of hannukka and thanksgiving in a century and it won't occur again for several more centuries. If you can't play nice, you'll have to go play at fox news, okay?
    • You Do Not Have To Shop
      Bottom line, stay home, do not go out to the mall. Problem Solved!
    • What's Worse
      It is worse that they are trying to replace Thanksgiving with Hanukkah!!!!
    • The almighty dollar
      All Simon cares about is MONEY, period.
    • GREED
      so let me get this straight, somehow to some complainers its labeled as GREED when an employer wants to increase profits, yet somehow it isn't GREED when those complaining are out shopping and fighting the crowds for 'stuff' at rock bottom prices. Its hilarious when the same people are complaining that employers should pay their employees more money, and then also try to argue they shouldn't open on days that allow them to make increased profits. So basically retail business should make less money, lower hours worked, and increase employee wages? got it...
    • always placing blame
      love how people always place the blame on the retailer for ruining the holidays by making it a "consumer" holiday. thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks but those evil business are having sales. does anyone realize they aren't forced to shop that day. does anyone realize that these retailers are giving consumers exactly what they demand. americans need to stop blaming the business and start looking in the mirror when it comes to placing blame on consumer holidays and losing the real meaning of the holiday.
    • Disgusted
      At what point did we stop thinking about our families and the families of our employees. As an owner of a local business and a shop local, when possible, patron I will not be shoppping anywhere that is open on Thanksgiving. Yes, I am well aware that these stores are open on several other holidays thru out the year. But, there is something about Thanksgiving. Maybe it is in the name itself. Thanksgiving - A time to give thanks for what we have right now, not two hours from now when the stores open. Personally I hate the holidays; that stressful time when you are forced to buy gifts for loved ones because the calendar says you should. I prefer to buy, or make, gifts for loved ones because I see something that I think a certain someone would appreciate or enjoy. Who cares if it's March and no where Christmas, or Hanukkah or their birthday or any other holiday. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite because there has never been any pretense to it other than for family to get together. No undue pressure to buy gifts or make resolutions or set off the best fireworks; just get together and be yourselves. Thank you commercial worl for trying to take that away.
      • ENOUGH OF THE WHINING
        apparently ibj censors posts that call out the whining consumers who feel reatil stores should close. basically, my previous post compared that to a waiter wanting his employer to shut down during dinner time so he could spend dinner with his family. its painfully obvious that retail business aren't going to close during its peak season and need to be open during times that their customers are most able to show up. you don't close your business during hours when customers are at the highest demand. if you work retail thats part of the gig. if you work IT, you realize you may have to solve issues in middle of night. If you are a janitor, you can't demand to work during office hours. a little common sense goes a long way, except of course for CK and FisherMOM
      • Sorry
        "As" consumers
      • Pete's right
        Ass consumers, we need to realize that we have an enormous amount of control over issues like this because we control The Wallet. Don't want stores to be open on Thanksgiving? Don't break down their doors to shop there. Don't like reality TV? Stop watching it, buying their products, buying magazines that feature their stars. Want a healthier populace? Stop buying junk food. Want better local jobs? Stop buying Chinese-made $&@$ at WalMart. Consumers need to own their responsibility for the society we live in.
      • Merry Christma$
        How is it that the people that dredge up the 'war on Christmas' argument every year don't seem to have a problem with retailers pushing Christmas on Nov 1? All they are concerned with is a forced 'Merry Christmas' greeting by the retailer.
      • Employees
        Fishers Mom, not sure if you have ever worked but I am only trying to keep up with the competition, primarily the big box stores. If they did not open I would not feel the need to open. You may not understand completely how competition works since your husband is a partner in a law firm downtown and brings home a nice paycheck every week (just a guess). I have very little turnover in my staff so I must be treating them somewhat fairly. Thanks for telling me how to run a business though and assuming I treat my employees poorly.
      • Pete, really?
        It's probably wise that you didn't name your business because I am certain that a lot of people would chose to go elsewhere with your attitude toward employees. Just because employees work in retail doesn't mean that they don't have families that they would like to share certain holidays with--especially Christmas.
        • Sorry keep them closed
          Sorry, but there are few holidays left already and people don't normally chose to work retail - they generally have to. Consumers should not shop on Thanksgiving.
        • Open Up
          If you choose to work in retail you must expect to work some difficult hours, not just around the holidays but year round. I have a retail store and would be open Christmas Day if it was allowed. Competition and consumer demand dictate the hours and times that a store is open, not employees. What other days do employees think we should close for? July 4th? Labor Day? Ground Hog Day???

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