Closed on Thanksgiving, right for Von Maur

Von Maur, the regional Midwest department store chain, recently announced its intention to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day, despite being surrounded by competitors who are opening next Thursday evening at 8pm or earlier. Von Maur is a family-owned company with a brand position somewhere between Macy’s and Nordstrom, and it has a longstanding tradition of closing for other holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day. (By the way, a similar policy doesn’t seem to have hurt Costco’s business.) Here’s my opinion, from a recent RetailWire panel discussion:

Von Maur has the advantage of family ownership and a longstanding culture that helps it avoid the “rat race” of deep discounts, coupons and extended hours. And, needless to say, it has a brand position to protect which is greater in importance than opening on Thanksgiving evening. (Not to mention its own employee relations.)

I’m not sure that the Von Maur way — or the Macy’s way — is a beacon in one direction or the other. Macy’s and its competitors will argue their position (“everybody else did it”) but whether the early hours actually drive incremental sales is another story.

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