Are you ready to pass the turkey then do some holiday shopping? In the past few years, retailers felt the backlash from their decision to be open on Thanksgiving Day, beginning holiday sales a day early. Social media campaigns slammed stores that made employees work on the holiday.
This year, more stores announced they will not open until Black Friday, November 23. A new survey by the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows close to 50 percent of Americans and Floridians support retail stores being closed on Thanksgiving and will not shop on that day.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute (http://polls.saintleo.edu) survey was fielded nationally online among 1,167 adults from October 11 through October 17, 2018. When all 1,167 answered questions, the margin of error for results is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.
The polling institute also sampled opinions of 698 likely voters in Florida, where Saint Leo University is based. The survey was conducted October 16 through October 22, 2018, using an online survey instrument. The Florida poll has a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).
Just under one-half of those in the national poll, 46.4 percent, support the retailers that announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, and say they will refrain from shopping at retailers that remain open. In Florida, 51.6 percent say the same.
In the national poll, 30.6 percent support the Thanksgiving retailer closings, but say they still will shop at those that remain open while 4.5 percent oppose the closings, but will refrain from shopping on Thanksgiving. Finally, 4.8 percent note they oppose the closings on Thanksgiving Day and will shop at retailers that remain open.
Poll results in Florida show 30.7 percent support the closings, but will shop on the holiday; 3.7 percent oppose the stores being closed, but will not shop; and 4.7 percent say they oppose the closings, but will hit the stores on the holiday.
Since the first time that stores announced they would be opening on Thanksgiving Day this has been a point of discussion, said Dr. Keith Jones, associate professor of marketing at Saint Leo University. Several stores that were open last year will not be open this year. "They are citing the lack of increase in sales over the major shopping period [Black Friday weekend], and the impact on employee morale. What many stores experienced was not an increase in overall sales, but a shift of when the sales occurred. In fact, this year the experts are saying, and we are already beginning to see, that many retailers are going to start their holiday sales early in an attempt to capture the customer dollar earlier in the purchasing season."
Saint Leo's poll shows that more of those surveyed support stores being closed on Thanksgiving, "yet a significant amount plan to do some shopping at those open," said Dr. Ryan Murphy, associate professor of economics at Saint Leo University. "I would think that is driven by a mix of those who are looking for early Black Friday deals as well as those who know they will likely have forgotten something needed for Thanksgiving—at least I always seem to forget something!"
Murphy said that as an economist, he is not surprised to see the mixed results, "as the law of demand would expect that a reduction in price from sales would lead to an increase in quantity demanded, but buyers also have to weigh their opportunity costs when making a choice. So some will prefer to stay home around family on the holiday rather than venture out to stores for deals … especially since so many can be found online nowadays."
"It seems as though the option to wait in virtual lines has made the practice of staying open on a holiday less desirable," added Dr. Zachary Smith, assistant professor of economics and finance at Saint Leo University.
The poll did examine opinions about Cyber Monday—the Monday following Thanksgiving when many online deals are offered by retailers. All respondents were asked to think about Cyber Monday online holiday sales and shopping.
Each was asked which of three activities that day best reflects their own plans and concerns over financial security. The results are:
"More than 40 percent [of Florida poll respondents] indicated that they have no plans to shop online on Cyber Monday," said Dr. Marwan Omar, assistant professor of computer science and information systems at Saint Leo University, who adds that he has no plans to shop online on November 26. "This could be a good indicator that people now realize that online shopping is risky because they may fall victims to identity theft. This could also mean that some respondents may have already become victims of identity theft because research statistics indicate thousands of people in the U.S suffer from this issue every day."
Omar advises those who do choose to shop online during the holiday to only use a computer "that belongs to you and on a network that you trust. Never conduct this type of confidential web browsing in common areas such as local coffee shops, airports, or local restaurants, because these are favorite targets for criminals since they rely on insecure public Wi-Fi networks."
Forecasting the season
Predictions are that overall holiday sales are going to be 3 percent to 5 percent higher this year than last year, said Jones, associate professor of marketing. "Even with that, this holiday season is going to be the make or break of certain retailers including JCPenney; Sears and Kmart; Bed Bath & Beyond; Neiman Marcus; Claire's stores; Charlotte Russe; and J.Crew. People are going to spend more this year because of a stronger economy, but the big question that retailers are trying to determine is when and where."
About the Poll
METHODOLOGY: This national survey was conducted October 11 through October 17, 2018, among a base of 1,167 respondents, using an online instrument. Politically, the composition of the sample was 24.9 percent Republican, 24.9 percent Democrat, 26.9 percent independent (or unaffiliated); and 8.7 percent from another party. The remaining 14.7 percent indicated they are unsure. The survey has a +/- 3.0 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level on a composite basis.
In Florida, the survey was used to sample opinions of 698 registered likely voters across the state. The survey was conducted October 16 through October 22, 2018, using an online survey instrument. The political composition of the voter base was 35.5 percent Republican, 38.1 percent Democrat, 24.1 percent unaffiliated, and 1 percent from another party. The remaining 1 percent indicated they were unsure. The Florida poll has a +/- 3.5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent confidence level (on a composite basis).
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute conducts its surveys using cutting-edge online methodology, which is rapidly transforming the field of survey research. The sample is drawn from large online panels, which allow for random selections that reflect accurate cross sections of all demographic groups. Online methodology has the additional advantage of allowing participants to respond to the survey at a time, place, and speed that is convenient to them, which may result in more thoughtful answers. The Saint Leo University Polling Institute develops the questionnaires, administers the surveys, and conducts analysis of the results. Panel participants typically receive a token incentive—usually $1 deposited into an iTunes or Amazon account—for their participation.
The Saint Leo University Polling Institute survey results about national and Florida politics, public policy issues, Pope Francis' popularity, and other topics, can also be found here: http://polls.saintleo.edu. You can also follow the institute on Twitter @saintleopolls.