By Mary Elizabeth Dial, Staff Correspondent
Breaking the trend of Black Friday sales starting earlier and earlier, all 31 interior stores and seven interior food vendors at the Gadsden Mall will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Stores with exterior entrances have the option to open their doors, but so far only Premier Cinema, Belk, Sears and JCPenney have announced that they will open on Thursday.
The decision to close on Thanksgiving Day was made by CBL & Associates Properties and affects 72 other shopping centers across the country. As Gadsden Mall general manager Carver Boynton explained, “After very serious consideration… they felt like it was an opportunity to let employees and shoppers spend time with their families.
“They wanted to bring the excitement back to Black Friday,” Boynton continued. She and other mall staff are hopeful that the holiday off will have positive results for the mall in general. In the past, the mall’s hours on Thanksgiving Day varied, sometimes beginning as early as 6 a.m.
When asked about the potential loss of profits that the mall will see, Boynton expressed that profits are only a part of the equation. The closing has already fostered significant goodwill in the community, which she believes is just as important.
Much of the positive feedback has come from mall employees, who are excited about the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends and to rest up for the hectic Christmas shopping season. Many shoppers see the decision as the mall fighting back against the commercialization of the Thanksgiving holiday and the push to spend money rather than spend time together.
“I think shoppers appreciate the move we’ve made,” Boynton said. “They’ve been very supportive.”
Boynton reminded the community, however, that hardcore Christmas shoppers have not been forgotten. While mall management wants to preserve the magic of Black Friday, Boynton wanted shoppers to know that they can still get their retail therapy on Thursday in the Belk, JCPenney and Sears, the mall’s three anchor department stores.
“We do want shoppers to still come out on Friday,” Boynton said. “We want them to take advantage of the blockbuster sales that are happening in our department stores on Thursday [and] visit the movie theater. We want them to come back on Friday and bring some of that excitement and magic back to Black Friday.”
It remains to be seen whether closing the mall on Thanksgiving Day will become a permanent policy. Regardless of the reception in Gadsden, the decision is up to CBL & Associates, and will likely be made based on experiences at its shopping centers nationwide.
Boynton is optimistic about the future of Gadsden shopping, however.
“We have received a lot of positive feedback from employees, from stores and from shoppers. We’re excited about how this is going to impact the season and how this is going to encourage shopping throughout the Christmas season.”
JCPenney will open at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and Belk and Sears will open at 6 p.m. Hours for Premier Cinema are not available at the time of this publication. The Gadsden Mall will open at 6 a.m. on Nov. 25 for Black Fridayshopping.