April 21, 2014

Medina
Clear
49°F

Some retailers not closing ’til Christmas Eve

The parking lot at Kohl’s in Medina Township is packed Sunday afternoon, the second day of the store’s around-the-clock opening through Christmas Eve. Kohl’s stores across the nation join several major chains in staying open through the night and offering sale prices on many items. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY NICK GLUNT)

Kohl’s and Kmart stores in Medina County and across the nation are ending the holiday shopping season the same way they began it — with round-the-clock, marathon shopping hours.

Kohl’s stores in Medina Township, Wadsworth and nationwide, for the first time, made the decision to stay open for five days straight, from 6 a.m. Friday through 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.

In addition to the extended hours, Kohl’s also is offering major price cuts — half or more off on some products.

Barb Dasch, 61, of Medina, took advantage of the sales at the Medina Township location Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t come here to shop if there’s not a sale,” Dasch said. “They told me I saved $158, but I’d never have paid that much for what I bought.”

Dasch said she bought clothing and some electronic items for family members.

“Don’t publish what I bought,” she joked. “I don’t want my family to know!”

Kmart stores in Brunswick and elsewhere are staying open for more than 100 hours in a row from Friday through Christmas Eve. Macy’s stores across the country are joining Kmart stores, and Toys R Us stories are staying open for 87 hours straight, which began on Saturday, typically the second-biggest shopping day of the year.

The expanded hours in the final days before Christmas are reminiscent of how some retailers typically begin the season on the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday. The strategy comes as stores try to recoup lost sales during a season that’s been hobbled by a number of factors.

Despite a recovering economy, many Americans have been struggling with stagnant wages and job uncertainty. Also, the time period between the official holiday shopping kickoff on Black Friday and the end of the season is six days shorter than a year ago, translating to fewer days for consumers to shop.

Compared to last year, sales at U.S. stores rose 2 percent to $176.7 billion from Nov. 1 through last Sunday, according to ShopperTrak. That’s a slower pace than the 2.4 percent increase the Chicago store data tracker expects for the entire two-month season.

The disappointing growth pace has put more pressure on retailers to get people into stores in the final days before Christmas. A lot is at stake because retailers usually make up to 40 percent of their revenue in November and December.

“It’s make-or-break for the retailers,” said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, a consumer research company. “They have to make up for lost ground.”

Retailers hope the expanded hours will make last-minute shopping easier for Americans like Peter Sallese, who have either stayed out of stores so far for a variety of reasons, including money problems and inclement weather. The financial executive from New York City said he’s usually finished with shopping by mid-December, but with the shortened season, he fell behind.

“Basically, when I came back from Thanksgiving, there was no time,” Sallese said. “Add in the snow and the freezing weather, and you didn’t feel like shopping.”

This isn’t the first year retailers have used marathon hours to lure shoppers. Toys R Us has been open from 6 a.m. Saturday and will stay open until 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve — the fourth year it’s had marathon hours at the end of the season. And this is the third year Kmart has offered round-the-clock hours: The discounter has had about one-tenth of its 1,100 stores open since 6 a.m. on Friday and they will remain open until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Macy’s began testing its 24-hour strategy in 2006, but it has made tweaks this year. Most Macy’s locations were open for 48 hours straight during the final two days before Christmas last year. But this year, 37 of Macy’s 800 stores are open for 107 hours from 7 a.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The rest of Macy’s locations are open between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m., Friday through Monday. On Christmas Eve, most Macy’s stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Our customers love the option to shop late night, overnight and/or first thing in the morning,” said Elina Kazan, a Macy’s spokeswoman.