Woodfield GM: Loss of Black Friday all-nighter a win
Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg took a break during the middle of the night between Thanksgiving and Black Friday this year, and General Manager Laurie Van Dalen believes everyone and everything was better for it.
"I think it just gave us time to refresh the shopping center," she said. "It gives us a fresh look for one of the two busiest days of the year. Really, it just gives the employees a chance to regroup and have some downtime."
One thing that didn't change was how much sleep Van Dalen got -- none. But she was able to leave at 2 a.m., a couple of hours after Woodfield closed on Thanksgiving, and then returned to a shopping center and its employees that looked less tired at sunrise than they did last year.
"I feel that there's more excitement for Black Friday," she said of the new hours.
Van Dalen added that she'd considered making the change last year but felt too new at the time, so soon after her transfer to Woodfield.
The 28-hour all-nighter between Thanksgiving and Black Friday was still a relatively young experiment -- not a long-standing tradition -- when many malls began giving up on it recently.
In making the change this year, Woodfield joined in on what the majority of malls owned by Simon Property Group across the country already had done.
One that didn't change was Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. While Woodfield closed at midnight on Thanksgiving and reopened at 6 a.m., the Aurora mall planned to stay open from 6 p.m. Thursday to 10 p.m. Friday.
"We've been busy pretty much all night," Chicago Premium Outlets General Manager Samuel Thatcher said early Friday. "We took a downturn right around the morning shift, so right around 4:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. It's still a little slow out there right now, but it should start picking up around 8, 8:30 a.m., get another rush."
John C. Melaniphy III, president of shopping center consulting firm Melaniphy & Associates Inc., recently told the Daily Herald he wasn't surprised by how many malls were changing course from the all-night shopping spree.
He added it was only a matter of time before the cost-effectiveness of maintaining such hours was studied more closely. The impact of such a schedule on smaller, mom-and-pop retailers is even greater and why each mall's decision must be based on its own mix of tenants and shoppers, Melaniphy said.
• Daily Herald staff writer Katlyn Smith contributed to this report