Retail behemoth Wal-Mart recently announced it will open its doors at 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving. This is ridiculous, irresponsible and downright stupid. And, the employee who came up with this idea should be seriously reprimanded!
Instead, Wal-Mart should open its doors 12 hours earlier—at 6:00 a.m.!
For all you traditionalists who love the "idea" of Thanksgiving (whatever that may be)—keep it to yourself. This is the 21st century, and the customary days of hosting a giant dinner while you force yourself to make small talk with family members, are over. Do you really care to hear about Uncle Frank's tee shot from his recent golf outing?
Yawn. Thanksgiving is boring and ridiculously overrated. There's a whole lot of work involved, with very little reward as you know somebody's in-law is going to make some over-the-top comment about how the turkey is too dry.
Oh, I digress.
Present day, my friends, says Thanksgiving is for shopping. Yeah, that's right. Shopping! If you want turkey, grab a sandwich and head to the mall, because that's the new holiday tradition in America. And, I doubt I'm alone with this way of thinking.
(Read more: Wal-Mart joins the Thanksgiving rush)
According to the National Retail Federation, 88 million Americans shopped on Black Friday last year; and of those, 28 percent were lined up to enter at midnight on Thanksgiving. It's obvious many of us see very little value in the traditional Thanksgiving model and would rather spend time with a BFF, known as the shopping bag.
But despite our A.D.D. society focused on the quick answer/post/tweet, etc., retailers with vision know the discretionary income pie is shrinking. So, how best to get a competitive advantage on your peers: Open the doors earlier.
NRF is forecasting holiday sales will increase 3.9 percent to $602 billion this year. The question that you really need to be asking is why retailers are bothering with doorbusters and opening hours, when they should never close on Thanksgiving eve! And, considering all of the headwinds and fiscal challenges soon to reappear, retailers are doing the smart move by selling on Thanksgiving and putting the Norman Rockwell vision of Thanksgiving on the back burner.
Even NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay perfectly explained the early opening phenomenon. To wit: "Retailers have urged Congress and the administration to seek a long-term solution for funding government and extending the debt ceiling instead of kicking the can down the road once again. A Band-Aid approach is not the answer."
Shay is correct. Companies like Wal-Mart have been crippled by major events, such as the government shutdown, which leaves them no choice, but to break tradition and seek ways to maximize revenue. The company reports earnings on Thursday, but don't be shocked if management displays optimism for the current quarter because of its decision to open Thanksgiving night.
Other big name retailers opening early on the holiday are JC Penney, Kohl's, Sears, Target and Macy's; and, collectively, revenues and earnings have been remarkably disappointing this year. Realistically, these companies have to be as aggressive and proactive, as possible, and ignore the traditionalists who have a problem with the early openings. If the numbers continue to weaken, look for 2014 to be the year retailers go with the 24/7 method and ask Americans to entirely eliminate the traditional Thanksgiving family gathering.
Even with that said, though, you do have a choice. You can choose NOT to go shopping and opt for the Butterball. But, then again, you may end up like Charlie Brown and regret missing that one great retail purchase. Happy shopping!
— By Todd M. Schoenberger
Todd M. Schoenberger is the founder and managing partner of LandColt Capital LP, and serves as Portfolio Manager of the LandColt Onshore and Offshore Funds. Follow him on Twitter @TMSchoenberger.