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Why more of your favorite stores are closing on Thanksgiving

Gibson Valencia 28, of Studio City, works on a display in 2014 at a Los Angeles H&M store. The clothing retailer is among companies shunning the ever-earlier sales trend by announcing that it will close its U.S. stores on Thanksgiving.

Gibson Valencia 28, of Studio City, works on a display in 2014 at a Los Angeles H&M store. The clothing retailer is among companies shunning the ever-earlier sales trend by announcing that it will close its U.S. stores on Thanksgiving.

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

As retailers have pushed Black Friday door-buster deals earlier each year, a small but growing number of companies has gone in the other direction.

Clothing retailer H&M is the latest company to shun the ever-earlier sales trend by announcing that it will close its U.S. stores on Thanksgiving. It joins Staples, GameStop and others in staying closed on the holiday. Two weeks ago, Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) took it a step further by saying its stores, distribution centers and headquarters would be closed on Black Friday.

The ease of online shopping has kept some retailers from opening their doors ahead of Black Friday. And the decision to close on Thanksgiving to give employees time with their families can also lead to increased brand loyalty from shoppers.

“I have not really seen or heard any negative backlash from folks being closed on Thanksgiving,” said Mike Griswold, research vice president for research firm Gartner. “I think what folks have started to realize is, ‘We can garner some goodwill. We aren’t necessarily going to take a huge hit financially by being closed on Thursday when we’re going to be open again on Friday.’”

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Last year, Black Friday weekend sales dropped 11% and shopper traffic was down 5.2%, evidence that promotions on Thanksgiving cannibalize sales later in the weekend.

Black Friday shoppers generally look for big-ticket items such as flat screen TVs that carry a larger discount than apparel promotions, said Charlie O’Shea, retail analyst for Moody’s.

Smaller retailers have a harder time matching those deals, and more of them seem to be staying closed on Thanksgiving this year, analysts said.

“Frankly, it surprised me that there were so many that were opening early over the last couple of years,” O’Shea said. “Our view is maybe there’s not the profit potential that there is if you’re a larger retailer doing that.”

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Shoppers venturing out during the holiday season could see more promotions at Macy’s stores. The Cincinnati-based retailer said Wednesday that its sales did not improve in the third quarter as expected and attributed this to “tepid” spending in key apparel and accessories by U.S. customers.

“Heading into the fourth quarter, we are shifting our organization into overdrive to focus on sales-driving activities in the holiday shopping season, company Chief Executive Terry Lundgren said in a statement.

For more business news, follow @smasunaga.

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