America's largest shopping mall announced it will close on Thanksgiving, a bold move at odds with increasingly early Black Friday shopping that has intruded upon the holiday in recent years.
Employees of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. received notifications Wednesday morning that the mall, including its indoor amusement park and movie theaters, will close on Thanksgiving Day, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
While the mall itself is closing, its more than 520 stores will have the option to remain open, the newspaper reported, though mall executives expect most will follow suit.
"We think Thanksgiving is a day for families and for people we care about," Jill Renslow, the mall's senior vice president of marketing, told the Associated Press. "We want to give this day back."
Most of the 1,200 employees working directly for the mall will receive the day off, though some maintenance and security staff will have to work Thanksgiving should other tenants stay open, AP reported. There are another 13,000 workers employed by stores in the mall.
The mall will officially re-open at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to kick off its Black Friday festivities.
Mall of America's move flies in the face of recent years' Black Friday trends, which have seen the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season creep further and further back into the hours of Thanksgiving night.
The Mall of America first opened late for Thanksgiving shoppers at midnight in 2012, according to AP. By the following year, the Black Friday kickoff hours had pushed back further to 8 p.m. In 2014 and 2015, the mall opened at 6 p.m.
More than 150 stores joined in the malls' evening hours last year, with many staying open through the night, the Star Tribune reported.
The newspaper noted that analysts question the effectiveness of early openings, finding the practice simply spread sales over more days without increasing earnings. The Mall of America sees about 400,000 shoppers over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
The mall's movie theaters and its amusement park, called Nickelodeon Universe, will close on Thanksgiving Day for the first time in the mall's 24-year history, the Star Tribune noted.
The mall won't be completely still during the day, however: Walk to End Hunger, the mall's annual charity event, will still take place Thanksgiving morning.
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