The marathon before Christmas

There was plenty of comment in late December about Kohl’s decision to stay open from Thursday the 17th through Christmas Eve…without a break. Here’s my recent comment from a RetailWire panel discussion:

I’ll start with my usual full disclosure, that I worked for Kohl’s from 1982 to 2006. I gather that the company timed its extended hours to the opening of Star Wars, which has been a big focus of its merchandising this holiday season. But in 2016 (because of the leap year), Christmas falls two days later on the calendar. Does this mean that Kohl’s will need to up the ante and stay open for over 220 hours straight? In some ways this reminds me of retailers’ war over Black Friday hours (opening earlier and earlier and eventually on Thanksgiving itself), except that Kohl’s doesn’t have much company in this tactic.

The economics probably make sense, especially if Kohl’s (like other stores) has overnight crews emptying trailers or restocking shelves. And the added demands of omnichannel (processing BOPIS and ship-from-store orders) mean that overnight teams can focus on “task” while daytime teams can keep the register lines moving. As to the strain on personnel, that’s a different question entirely: The week after Christmas is at least as stressful on store management (dealing with both returns and clearance) as the week before.

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