No more Black Friday all-nighters? Woodfield joins trend of malls scaling back hours
Black Friday at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg will start less than an hour before sunrise this year, ending the mall's recent run of all-night marathons to kick off the holiday shopping season.
The decision to scale back hours is part of a growing trend among retail centers, mall owners and retail industry experts say.
Woodfield spokeswoman Bonni Pear said that in making the change, Illinois' largest shopping center is following what the vast majority of malls owned by Simon Property Group across the country already have been doing. Simon malls in the suburbs include Gurnee Mills in Gurnee and Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora.
The revised hours for Thanksgiving weekend at Woodfield follow an analysis of shopper traffic in previous years, Pear said.
"It is definitely for the benefit of retailers," she said.
This year, Woodfield will be open from 5 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving; 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 29; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1.
Even at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, which is bucking the trend by staying open from 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Black Friday, individual stores have the option of closing from 1 to 8 a.m. Black Friday.
Fox Valley's senior general manager, J. Scott Sampson, anticipates about 50% to 60% of stores will choose to remain open overnight. After the initial push in the holiday shopping season, the mall plans slightly shorter hours than in past years, Sampson said.
"Where we might have been open as early as 8 a.m. or as late as midnight, we've trimmed those, looking at our actual traffic counts and when business is actually happening here," he said.
John C. Melaniphy III, president of shopping center consultant firm Melaniphy & Associates Inc., said he's unsurprised by the changes.
"I think malls went overboard," he said of the previous emphasis on all-nighters.
With online sales and the decline of traditional department stores affecting the number of visits to malls, Melaniphy said it was only a matter of time before the cost-effectiveness of staying open 28 hours straight was looked at more closely. The impact of such hours on smaller, mom-and-pop retailers is even greater and why each mall's decision is based on its own mix of tenants and shoppers, Melaniphy said.
Among the area malls that already close at midnight and reopen around dawn on Black Friday are Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills and Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale.
And even though Stratford Square opens at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving, none of its stores are required to open that day.
It's doubtful a mall that's decided to close for the night after Thanksgiving will be troubled by the presence of another that won't, because it's already looked at the data for its own situation, Melaniphy said.
REI, the retailer of outdoor equipment, has decided not to open its stores at all on Black Friday, he pointed out.
Still, Melaniphy said he doesn't believe Black Friday is in danger of becoming an outdated concept anytime soon. It's the kind of experiential component that shopping malls are looking for more of these days.
"I think Black Friday is going to be around for a while," he said. "I think for a lot of consumers it's a tradition and a treasure hunt. ... It's really up to the retailers if Black Friday is going to survive."
• Daily Herald staff writers Marie Wilson, Robert Sanchez and Mick Zawislak contributed to this report.