October 26, 2013

Holiday shopping will wait until Black Friday in Maine

National chains will be opening throughout much of the country on Thanksgiving night, but Maine law restricts holiday hours.

By Jessica Hall jhall@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

While some chain retailers have already announced that they plan to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, the typical holiday shopping frenzy in Maine will have to wait until 12:01 a.m. Friday.

click image to enlarge

In this November 2011 file photo, Black Friday shoppers are out in force at the Maine Mall in South Portland.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

Under Maine law, stores larger than 5,000 square feet are prohibited from opening on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

National chains including Kohl’s, J.C. Penney and Macy’s have said they will open as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving in most states, but Maine is one of three that forbid Thanksgiving openings.

Macy’s and Bon-Ton department stores said they will open their Maine Mall locations at 12:01 a.m. on Black Friday, Nov. 29. Most Kohl’s stores in Maine will also open at that time. J.C. Penney has not announced its Black Friday opening time yet for Maine.

The Maine Mall said it expects all its stores to be open by 6 a.m. or earlier on Black Friday. The mall expects opening times similar to last year, when more than 40 of the roughly 100 retailers and vendors had opened by 3 a.m. Friday, according to Stefanie Millette, marketing manager of the Maine Mall.

Maine has held firm to its holiday closures. Earlier this year, a bill was defeated in the Legislature that would have allowed stores with less than 10,000 square feet of interior selling space to open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

Opening early on Black Friday – or Thanksgiving night – can help retailers grab shoppers’ initial spending dollars, which may be scarce this year.

Consumers are expected to spend an average of $738 on holiday shopping, a drop of 2 percent from last year’s per-person spending, according to the National Retail Federation.

Since Thanksgiving falls on a later date this year, the official holiday shopping season is only 26 days – the shortest possible period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last year, Thanksgiving fell one week earlier.

The holiday shopping season is crucial for retailers, which get between 20 percent and 40 percent of their annual business during that time, the retail federation said. Tepid sales during the back-to-school shopping period in August are also driving stores’ push to maximize holiday profits.

ShopperTrak, which counts and analyzes retail shopper traffic, predicts foot traffic in stores to drop 1.4 percent, as people visit fewer brick-and-mortar stores and watch their spending carefully. Overall holiday sales will rise 2.4 percent from last year, the group said.

In Maine, consumers eager for holiday excitement can find other diversions on Thanksgiving evening. In Freeport, where the vast majority of stores plan to open at midnight, there will be a Thursday night “fun run” led by Santa on a Harley-Davidson.

Also, following last year’s successful promotion, Amtrak’s Downeaster train again will offer $5 fares from Boston. Trains will bring shoppers to Freeport at 10:35 p.m. on Thanksgiving and another train will arrive at 2:05 a.m. Friday.

And in accordance with Maine tradition, L.L. Bean’s Freeport headquarters will not close. The store was grandfathered in under the law prohibiting holiday openings and will be open all Thanksgiving Day.

Jessica Hall can be contacted at 791-6316 or at:


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