While other retailers including Macy's, Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buys moved their Black Friday openings up to or even right into Thanksgiving day, J.C. Penney stuck with its usual 4 a.m. opening.
The department store chain was counting on sales from its website and loyal crowds of shoppers to keep it in the game, as the competition scrambled to open their stores earlier to get the first shoppers. J.C. Penney resisted opening as early as its rivals, saying it wanted workers to have the whole Thanksgiving day with their families.
The verdict is in on what effect that had on J.C. Penney's sales, and it wasn't pretty. "The Company noted that its decision to respect Thanksgiving Day for families and open at 4:00 a.m. on Friday, as it had in prior years, adversely impacted Black Friday sales," said J.C. Penney in a press release. "Sales remained soft in-store throughout the holiday weekend."
For November, sales fell 5.9 percent at J.C. Penney stores, totaling $1.74 billion. Sales at stores open a year or more, considered a key indicator of a retailer's health, were down 2 percent.
That's especially bad for the chain in a year when holiday retail as a whole continues to rebound, driven by deep discounts, and Black Friday sales as a whole were up 6.6 percent. And last year, J.C. Penney saw a 7.2 percent increase in its November sales.
So it looks like consumers have voted with their feet and their wallets, turning out in droves for 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and midnight openings and shunning one of the few mass-market department stores that held out for a Friday opening.
Any retailers that consider trying to reverse the trend of Black Friday Creep will have to take note - and the earlier openings are probably here to stay.