Milford mall joins Thanksgiving closures

MILFORD >> Add the Connecticut Post Mall to the growing list of retailers and shopping centers that have decided it no longer is worth it to have Thanksgiving hours for shoppers.

The parent company of the mall, Centennial Real Estate, announced recently that for the first time in four years, none of its malls will be open Thanksgiving. The Connecticut Post Mall will open at 5 a.m. the next day — Friday, Nov. 25 — for the start of the holiday selling season, which runs through Christmas Eve.

“Not only does this allow for families to be together on Thanksgiving, but it brings back the excitement that has historically surrounded the busiest shopping day of the year,” said Steven Levin, chief executive officer of Centennial Real Estate. “This decision is an example of our commitment to the communities we serve, and to offer shopping experiences centered on what uniquely matters to them.”

“Family and tradition matter to our customers, and we want to support those values by encouraging our shoppers, employees and communities to celebrate a traditional holiday,” he said.

Of course, there still are a number of other Connecticut malls and shopping centers that do plan to be open on Thanksgiving so that consumers can stuff their shopping carts with bargains after they have stuffed themselves at the holiday dinner table.

WestFarms Mall in Farmington, Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets and Tanger Outlets Westbrook all will be open Thanksgiving. And Macy’s, a retailer associated with the holiday because of its sponsorship of the iconic parade through the streets of New York City, will launch its holiday selling season at 5 p.m. Thanksgiving Day, an hour earlier than it has opened on the holiday in the last two years.

The nation’s largest shopping center, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., announced Oct. 5 that it would be closed on Thanksgiving. Since then, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL & Associates Properties and now Centennial Real Estate have followed suit.

CBL & Associates Properties owns, holds interests in or manages 144 properties, including 89 regional malls/open-air centers in 31 states. The company developed Milford Marketplace, which opened in 2007, then sold that shopping center in 2011.

Representatives of both the Mall of America and the Connecticut Post say they are working with department stores, restaurants, movie theaters and other tenants that have exterior entrances so they can be open on Thanksgiving if they choose. But consumers contacted via social media seemed to overwhelmingly approve of the decision.

“Good move,” said Susan Gabryszewski via Twitter. “Holidays weren’t meant for shopping.”

Others agreed.

“I wish more malls & stores would follow suit,” said Harmony Donnelly Glassey. “The only reason stores open on Thanksgiving is pure greed to make a buck. Employees deserve a day off with their families; there are plenty of shopping days between Black Friday & Christmas Eve.”

Glassey added that she is not anti-shopping.

“(I) shop, love a good bargain and have been shopping Black Fridays for about 18 years,” Glassey said. “However, I will not shop on Thanksgiving.”

Meg Quinn Beardsley is married to someone who worked retail for years. Beardsley said she is happy that her spouse’s employer is closed for the holiday.

“No bargain is worth taking someone away from his family,” Beardsley said. “Not all workers take those shifts voluntarily. Plus when you are management, there is no overtime as a salaried worker.”

Kaitlin Marie said she personally doesn’t shop on Thanksgiving, but added that people she has talked who work in the industry welcomed the idea of being open.

“It’s good pay and helps with Christmas shopping,” Kaitlin Marie said.

Paul Pacelli called the mall’s decision “a nice gesture,” but said he worried about the affect on workers who are really counting on as many hours as possible during the holiday to make ends meet.

“What about offering bonuses or double-time for employees who don’t mind working a few hours that day, either before or after any family functions?” Pacelli said.

David Cadden, a professor emeritus at Quinnipiac University’s School of Business, said he thinks the retail closings have more to do with a cost benefit analysis than real kindness.

“Given the paucity of real humanity in that industry, that’s the case,” Cadden said. “You’re talking about an industry that uses very sophisticated software to make sure companies don’t have to pay any overtime. They probably looked at how much they were spending versus how much it cost to stay open and decided it wasn’t worth it.”

In addition to the good will of many consumers, Cadden said retailers may get one other benefit out of the holiday closing.

“There is a tremendous amount of (employee) turnover in retail,” he said. “Retailers that are closed on Thanksgiving might see a reduction in their rate of turnover.”

Kevin Keenan, general manager of WestFarms, said the decision to open on Thanksgiving “is based on a number of considerations, including demand from both our merchants and customers.”

The holiday shopping season can be a make-or-break proposition for some retailers.

The National Retail Federation is reporting that as much as 30 percent of a company’s annual sales can come out of that one-month period. A failure to increase sales over the previous holiday season or a decline in that number often results in store closings or bankruptcy filings.

Call Luther Turmelle at 203-680-9388.