“Respect the Bird”: Big Companies Display Regard for Thanksgiving Holiday

This past week has been a rough one in terms of holiday discussion – people have been complaining about the red Starbucks cups and premature Christmas lights. In the spirit of separating out our holidays and respecting that they are a time to spend with family and not at the shopping mall, retail giants Nordstrom, REI, and Costco have announced that they are celebrating the holidays a little differently.

Nordstrom is continuing their longstanding tradition of not opening their stores on Thanksgiving (that viral photo going around is from 2009, btw), giving their employees the day off to spend with their families. They also announced that their stores won’t “deck the halls” until the day after Thanksgiving – effectively respecting the bird and letting Thanksgiving shine in it’s own right. “No decorations before Thanksgiving — it’s a hallmark of Nordstrom,” said Lesa A. Sroufe, President of Sroufe & Co in Seattle. “Tradition is very important to the Nordstrom family, and they’d rather keep to tradition as opposed to thinking how to pump sales.”

Retailer REI will not open at all on Black Friday, stating that they want employees to “do what they love most – be outside”, and has announced that their employees will still be compensated for that workday. They launched their new #OptOutside movement to facilitate photo sharing of what employees and consumers are doing outside instead of shopping that day.

Costco has also jumped on the bandwagon, stating that employees “deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families”. They will stay closed on Thanksgiving, also allowing their employees time to spend the holiday with their families and friends.

These three companies are challenging the ongoing trend of retailers opening their doors earlier and earlier for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. According to the National Retail Federation, 32% of Americans shopped on Thanksgiving and 65% shopped on Black Friday in 2014, and in some cases up to 40% of annual profits are made from holiday shopping. Companies are taking a risk on loss of profit, but are banking on more customers in the long run because of it: it pays to be respectful of both employees’ and customers’ holiday time, and these statements have been made with intention to facilitate trust, respect, and increased future engagement from employees and customers.

Before you know it, the holiday season will be over once again. No matter if you agree with what these companies are doing, the statements they are making are compassionate and powerful.


Curious about other companies who are “respecting the bird” this year? Mental Floss posted a list of 22 stores that refuse to open on Thanksgiving.


Tell us what you think on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, Happy Holidays!

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