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Mall owner opts to go dark on Thanksgiving, sticking with a new tradition

  • CBL Properties is looking to start a new tradition for itself, pushing back on Black Friday creep across America.
  • The mall landlord will close more than 60 properties on Thanksgiving.
  • Some of CBL's tenants, like TJ Maxx and H&M, have already begun announcing plans to stay closed on the holiday.

CBL Properties will keep the doors of its retail properties closed on Thanksgiving Day for the second-straight year.

Pushing back against so-called Black Friday creep, Tennessee-based CBL said the closures will affect 62 of its malls and open-air shopping centers.

Last year, more than 70 CBL-owned locations were kept closed on the holiday, allowing employees to enjoy their turkey. Some of the REIT's assets have since been sold off, which accounts for the discrepancy in the number of properties closed on a year-over-year basis.

"We had such overwhelming support from last year's decision," Chief Executive Stephen Lebovitz told CNBC. "We felt validated by that ... it was the right thing to do."

Like last year, the only tenants allowed to open early at the real estate investment trust's enclosed malls are department stores or shops with an exterior entrance. All access to common areas will be restricted. CBL's open-air centers will also be closed, but since those tenants have exterior entrances, they have the option to open on Thanksgiving.

Prior to 2016, openings at CBL's properties had been moving slightly earlier every year, with many retailers trying to get a jump on holiday sales. In 2012, select CBL centers opened for the first time at midnight on Black Friday. The next year, all of its centers opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. And in 2015, it was 6 p.m.

"Now we have a track record," Lebovitz said of the two-straight years of closures. "Nothing is set in stone forever, but it's a very high likelihood we will continue this unless the circumstances change."

Lebovitz said CBL doesn't have to worry about any of its mall competitors remaining open because many of its buildings house the dominant retailers in smaller markets.

Some of CBL's retail tenants have already begun announcing plans to stay closed on Thanksgiving. Among them: TJ Maxx and H&M.

CBL is in the midst of a complete rebranding, with the goal of marketing its portfolio as "vibrant town centers" with experiential opportunities, more restaurants and fitness centers.

"Our properties are not just about retail or shopping — they serve as gathering places for their respective communities," Lebovitz said.

He said the decision to close on Thanksgiving ties directly into the rebranding because CBL wants to encourage families to spend time together on holidays rather than shopping.

These CBL properties will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Acadiana Mall, Lafayette, LA
Alamance Crossing, Burlington, NC
Arbor Place, Douglasville, GA
Asheville Mall, Asheville, NC
Brookfield Square, Brookfield, WI
Burnsville Center, Burnsville, MN
Cary Towne Center, Cary, NC
Chapel Hills Mall, Colorado Springs, CO
CherryVale Mall, Rockford, IL
Coastal Grand, Myrtle Beach, SC
CoolSprings Galleria, Franklin, TN
Cross Creek Mall, Fayetteville, NC
Dakota Square Mall, Minot, ND
East Towne Mall, Madison, WI
EastGate Mall, Cincinnati, OH
Eastland Mall, Bloomington, IL
Fayette Mall, Lexington, KY
Friendly Center, Greensboro, NC
Frontier Mall, Cheyenne, WY
Greenbrier Mall, Chesapeake, VA
Hamilton Place, Chattanooga, TN
Hanes Mall, Winston-Salem, NC
Harford Mall, Bel Air, MD
Hickory Point Mall, Forsyth, IL
Honey Creek Mall, Terre Haute, IN
Imperial Valley Mall, El Centro, CA
Janesville Mall, Janesville, WI
Jefferson Mall, Louisville, KY
Kirkwood Mall, Bismark, ND
Laurel Park Place, Livonia, MI
Layton Hills Mall, Layton, UT
Mall del Norte, Laredo, TX
Mayfaire, Wilmington, NC
Meridian Mall, Okemos, MI
Mid Rivers Mall, St. Peters, MO
Monroeville Mall, Monroeville, PA
Northgate Mall, Chattanooga, TN
Northpark Mall, Joplin, MO
Northwoods Mall, Charleston, SC
Oak Park Mall, Overland Park, KS
Old Hickory Mall, Jackson, TN
Park Plaza, Little Rock, AR
Parkdale Mall, Beaumont, TX
Parkway Place, Huntsville, AL
Pearland Town Center, Pearland, TX
Post Oak Mall, College Station, TX
Richland Mall, Waco, TX
South County, St. Louis, MO
Southpark Mall, Colonial Heights, VA
St. Clair Square, Fairview Heights, IL
Stroud Mall, Stroudsburg, PA
Sunrise Mall, Brownsville, TX
Triangle Town Center, Raleigh, NC
Turtle Creek Mall, Hattiesburg, MS
Valley View Mall, Roanoke, VA
Volusia Mall, Daytona Beach, FL
West County Center, St. Louis, MO
West Park Mall, Giraradeau, MO
West Towne Mall, Madison, WI
WestGate Mall, Spartanburg, SC
Westmoreland Mall, Greensburg, PA
York Galleria, York, PA