Holiday Central

Stores should close on Thanksgiving: Toys R Us ex-CEO

Black Friday early start 'doesn't make sense'

Stores should not be open on Thanksgiving Day because it doesn't make sense on moral or economic grounds, said John Eyler, former chairman and CEO of Toys R Us.

With the Black Friday creep intensifying in recent years, Eyler told CNBC on Wednesday: "I think Thanksgiving is sort of the one nondenominational holiday that ought to be enjoyed by everyone with their families. I am totally opposed to opening on Thanksgiving."

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"Economically, I don't think it makes sense either," he argued. "When you talk about staffing a store on Thanksgiving you're talking about at least double time in terms of salaries. And I don't believe that you do anything but spread out the volume with adding a lot of expense. I think it makes no sense."

But apparently the current management of Toys R Us does not agree with the former boss because the chain plans to open its doors at 5 p.m. on Thursday, just like last year, and remain open through 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

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"I think you're starting to see some real push back," Eyler said in a "Squawk Box" interview. "Even Macy's is looking at ways to only have volunteers as opposed to force them to work on that day." Nordstrom, Marshalls, and Costco are among those not opening on Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile, a lawmaker in Ohio, Macy's home state, wants retailers there to pay triple wages for employees who work on Thanksgiving. State Rep. Mike Foley, a Democrat from Cleveland, said his bill would also allow employees to bow out of the holiday shift without repercussions.

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But Eyler, also former chairman and CEO of FAO Schwarz, said that essential services should be open. "I think there are basic services ... that are infrastructural that need to operate. And those people should be really appropriately compensated."

"If it's three times, God bless them," he said.