Latest fad in Christmas shopping: Staying open all night long

posted at 9:26 am on December 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Retail employees are used to working long hours during the Christmas shopping season, but usually the stores will close for a few hours each day. Anyone brave enough to enter a retail store this close to Christmas knows why — the shelves need restocking, the floors need cleaning, and someone has to get a little sleep. Only supermarkets and convenience stores make enough sales in the wee hours of the morning to justify the cost of round-the-clock operations, and even then those stores are usually only in higher-population areas.

This Christmas season, though, a couple of major retailers plan to keep the doors open for several days, right up to Christmas Eve:

Here’s some welcome news for all the procrastinators out there.

Catering to last-minute shoppers, Toys R Us said Monday that it will keep its doors open for 87 hours straight leading up to Christmas. …

“With only eight shopping days remaining until Christmas, we are offering customers extended, uninterrupted time in stores, providing them the opportunity to shop whenever is most convenient for them,” said Troy Rice, Toys R Us’ executive vice president of stores and services.

Locations nationwide will open Saturday at 6 a.m. and remain open until 9 p.m. Christmas Eve. They will also offer shoppers the option to buy items online and pick them up in-store within an hour.

It’s probably not welcome news to Toys-R-Us managers, and not for the corporation itself.  The accumulated debt of the venerable childrens’ toy store has become a lot less attractive recently, and Moody’s already has its paper in junk status. They need a big Christmas to get them out of the hole, but history is already working against them:

Bond market watchers at Moody’s Analytics—a separate arm of the company from the group that actually rates the bonds—have been watching the dropping prices carefully. They say the price declines “imply that investors may well consider the upcoming holiday season to be a make-or-break time for the company.”

In fact, Moody’s analysts say Toys “R” Us bonds are trading at such low prices, you’d typically expect to see them on the bonds of an entity with a single “C” credit rating. That’s four notches lower than the “Caa1″ rating that Moody’s credit-rating arm has assigned to Toys “R” Us.

“Single C is the lowest notch on the ratings scale,” said Jerry Tempelman, an analyst with Moody’s Analytics who’s been watching the performance of Toys “R” Us securities. “Even Caa1 is considered deep junk, but single C is as low as it gets.”

According to Tempelman, Moody’s Analytics looked at some 262 other instances when such a four-notch negative discrepancy has occurred since 1999. The result? Around 80% of the time, the company had defaulted within three years.

The debt comes from a leveraged buyout a few years ago, which was supposed to be resolved with an IPO in 2010 taking the firm public again.  Toys-R-Us finally dropped that plan in March of this year, and investors have soured on it since.  The move to a 24-hour operation makes a lot more sense with this context in mind — they have to capture the public’s imagination, and score as much traffic as they can.

But Toys-R-Us isn’t the only retailer with this idea. The discount department store Kohl’s, which is a lot healthier than Toys-R-Us, announced almost two weeks ago that they would do the same thing:

In the wake of a Black Friday weekend that pushed retailers’ hours earlier and earlier—in many cases leading to Thanksgiving Day openings—Kohl’s said Thursday that it will extend its holiday schedule to 24 hours a day at most of its locations in the days leading up to Christmas.

For the first time ever, the retailer will open its doors at 6 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20, and keep them open until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve—meaning they will be open for more than 100 straight hours. Last year, stores were open from 6 a.m. to midnight leading up to Dec. 24.

“The holiday season is an eventful time for families, and Kohl’s is making it easy for shoppers to wrap up their last-minute gift giving,” Michelle Gass, the retailer’s chief customer officer, said in a release.

Because of the shortened calendar—there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared with last year—retailers are coming up with new ways to steal share from competitors and bring shoppers into their stores. These include extended hours and dramatic price cuts.

Toys-R-Us and Macy’s did this last year, when it was more of a novelty.  This is starting to look like a trend, especially in the highly-competitive one-upsmanship world of retail.  It won’t be long before other retailers look at the lost opportunities in the graveyard shift and start keeping doors open as well, just as it hasn’t taken long for Thanksgiving Day to become a competitive retail shopping day.

Let’s poll readers. Would you take advantage of all-night Christmas shopping, or would you stick with the usual retail hours?

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Great – just another contributing factor to my procrastination.

gwelf on December 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM

When I worked for Kohl’s several years ago, we did this at least once a year, for the (unstated) benefit of third-shift workers who have trouble coming in at other times. It’s not busy, but the people who were there certainly appreciated it.

Darin on December 17, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Freedom, liberty, capitalism… more power to them.

The market will decide if this is wise or not.

mankai on December 17, 2013 at 9:30 AM

Dumb.

22044 on December 17, 2013 at 9:31 AM

What Christmas shopping? Got to pay for inflated health insurance premiums, y’know.

ElectricPhase on December 17, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Not shopping online is for chumps.

Jeddite on December 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM

You can’t buy insurance at Toys-R-Us.

And everyone knows, that’s what is at the top of every child’s list this year. Just eeking out the PS4.

Gatsu on December 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM

I work 12 hour nights, so I’m a vampire. Yes, I welcome this, because nights is when I’m active and ready to get stuff done!

JenBee on December 17, 2013 at 9:37 AM

I don’t really see why it’s necessary to have Toys R Us or Kohl’s open in the middle of the night. 9 times out of 10 if I’m at TRU, I’m there with my 3 1/2 year old(so he can pick the toy he wants) and there’s no way in hell I’m gonna be there that late with him in tow. As for Kohl’s, I don’t think I’ve ever been there looking for a particular shirt or pair of pants. I just shop there because their prices are so cheap. So it’s not like I’m concerned that something may sell out if I can’t make it to the store during normal operating hours.

Doughboy on December 17, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Big deal? I worked 3rd shift for many years… this would have been nice.

Ugly on December 17, 2013 at 9:41 AM

Well, I’m Jewish, so my Christmas shopping is minimal, baruch HaShem. And if I did need to do Christmas shopping, I’d do it all through Amazon. However, once you get past those two hurdles, yes, I’d absolutely do all my shopping at 3am if I could.

Fabozz on December 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM

Not having to rub elbows with the human garbage seen at the MOA and Ridgedale Center, works for me. Some punk pushed my daughter out of his way Sunday evening at MOA after she got too far ahead of me, my reaction to him was more inventive; you would be surprised just how far a 5’2″ Hmong teenager can be tossed when you utilize the hood of their Raiders jacket.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

I guess we should look on the bright-side ….. nobody gets trampled to death in a stampede, this way.

listens2glenn on December 17, 2013 at 9:46 AM

I typically make a pass through a couple of pawn shops and the feed store in the days leading up to Christmas. Here we are 8 days out and she’s beginning to get that hopefully nervous look that comes at this time of year…

DanMan on December 17, 2013 at 9:46 AM

I pretty much did all my shopping online this year. I had to go to a big box bookstore on Sunday- what a madhouse! I don’t care if stores do marathon hours. Not as long as you can shop from home.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2013 at 9:49 AM

You can’t buy insurance at Toys-R-Us.

And everyone knows, that’s what is at the top of every child’s list this year. Just eeking out the PS4.

Gatsu on December 17, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Don’t say that too loud. I can easily see the White House launching an ad campaign lecturing us that “good parents” would forego the latest electronics and give the gift of security by ensuring their precious snowflakes were covered by Obamacare.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2013 at 9:53 AM

you would be surprised just how far a 5’2″ Hmong teenager can be tossed when you utilize the hood of their Raiders jacket.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

You’re lucky he wasn’t packing.

Most Hmong teenagers I’ve seen are wannabe “gangstas” who have no idea or respect for what their parents and grandparents went through to get here.

Sterling Holobyte on December 17, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I worked at Target for 8 years, so now I do 99% of all of my Christmas shopping online. If I have to buy anything at a store for Christmas, I usually do it weeks before Thanksgiving. I refuse to join the other sheep in sitting in traffic, prowling the parking lot for a parking spot, and being shoulder to shoulder with people just to buy something. Thanks to Target and working during Christmas as a cashier where I stayed in one spot for an entire shift quite often, I get claustrophobic around people this time of year.

cebj25 on December 17, 2013 at 10:01 AM

If only the technology existed to help us all save time, fuel, money and aggravation to browse, price, purchase and have goods delivered to our homes without the need to move out of one’s chair.

Of course, that would mean missing out on crowds, incessantly looped music and other noise, chaotic, cluttered stores, and other joys of the season.

jangle12 on December 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

My wife and I have done our part for the season. Having had to buy quite a bit to ship to our relatives in Hurricane torn Tacloban City to replace decades of lost wealth. Even so, I guess the economy just is not going to recover. Who could have seen this happening? It is not like we have an activist government equivalent time period to look back on, like the Great Depression that was only GREAT because of FDR.

astonerii on December 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

If only the technology existed to help us all save time, fuel, money and aggravation to browse, price, purchase and have goods delivered to our homes without the need to move out of one’s chair.

Of course, that would mean missing out on crowds, incessantly looped music and other noise, chaotic, cluttered stores, and other joys of the season.

jangle12 on December 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

Oh, we have that ability. But it comes with its own challenges. Restocking fees for returns, lack of gift receipts, driving to the ups office to send the item back, lack of being able to man handle items before buying, the fact that some items just are not shipping friendly.

I do a mix of shopping styles depending on which is the best total value. Price sometimes does not make that cut.

astonerii on December 17, 2013 at 10:07 AM

People will be shopping to quote Lionel Richie, “All night long!” As for me I’ll be sleeping all night long.

Imrahil on December 17, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Of course, that would mean missing out on crowds, incessantly looped music and other noise, chaotic, cluttered stores, and other joys of the season.

jangle12 on December 17, 2013 at 10:03 AM

My personal peeve is the idiots that think their children should be brought along to essentially clog up the store aisles and annoy those around them. And, apparently, they get extra points if they drag the child along in a wide stroller that can be used like a cow catcher to clear shoppers out of their way.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Sorry, Ed. This is about the loss of days.

Unless you’re one of those “I shop for Christmas in June” types, it’s been a real PITA since October/November to find good prices for worthwhile stuff.

The retailers thought the loss of a week meant they could hold prices on the good stuff and push the refuse, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

Now it’s a scramble to move as much as possible during season because they know people are deciding to opt for post-holiday sales which lines up chronologically with the normal timeframe between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

budfox on December 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM

You’re lucky he wasn’t packing.

Most Hmong teenagers I’ve seen are wannabe “gangstas” who have no idea or respect for what their parents and grandparents went through to get here.

Sterling Holobyte on December 17, 2013 at 9:54 AM

HE was lucky he wasn’t packing, I never wear a jacket into the MOA on the rare days I visit because my own gun is more accessible. After it was over he and his buddy jabbered at me, huffed out their miniature chests, and I made sure they were out of sight before turning my back. Just another day at Goon Central.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 10:11 AM

The biggest PITA for me is the large numbers of people in my way and clogging up the registers.
I have already made good use of late night shopping in other stores year round, with the tradeoff being navigation around all of those pallets of goods being put away. The positive is the emptiness of the store and the ability to make productive progress.

Medbob on December 17, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The retailers thought the loss of a week meant they could hold prices on the good stuff and push the refuse, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

budfox on December 17, 2013 at 10:08 AM

Ain’t that the truth, Cabelas sends me 5 emails a day trumpeting their OMG! sales on such uber popular items as turkey calls, hip waders, generators, and fleece beanies, and of course their “Save $20 on any purchase over $500!”

Gee thanks. I love Cabelas but their sales are always on crap nobody is going to drive out of their way to get.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

I’m not one for gift cards, but if ever there was a year for them its this one.

I foresee lots desperation prices after Christmas.

cozmo on December 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Fabozz on December 17, 2013 at 9:42 AM

I’m Jewish too-with a Christian husband and son.
Because I work at Wally, I got my husband’s present on associate appreciation day(those of us who worked Thanksgiving got an extra discount), got gift cards for my nieces/ nephew, and Spawn requested $$$
Easy-peezy.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:21 AM

My local mall was practically empty last week and I don’t remember it ever being that way two weeks before Christmas. I was meandering around Macy’s almost alone, and I was there during prime evening hours.
Has on-line shopping become that popular? Or are alot of people cutting back more and more?
A bit of both I suspect.

lynncgb on December 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Gee thanks. I love Cabelas but their sales are always on crap nobody is going to drive out of their way to get.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Retailers are getting desperate. Not only was it a shorter season but here in DC anyway weather has been a factor on one of the weekends. The e-mail account is getting dozens of offers every single day. Most all of it not so exciting.

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Has on-line shopping become that popular? Or are alot of people cutting back more and more?
A bit of both I suspect.

lynncgb on December 17, 2013 at 10:23 AM

From what I have read, and the web-only sale notices I get in my inbox, both are down.

When the family goes shopping, wife and daughter shop, I people watch. Anecdotally, things do not look good.

cozmo on December 17, 2013 at 10:26 AM

I can attest that retail sales are down. At last week’s ‘Friday meeting’, my store manager informed us that we were short 9 million for the month of December. That was a budget short-and if we didn’t make it up by Christmas Eve , we would lose our first bonus of 2014.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Grumpy Grinches! :p~~~~~

Wear a hat with mistletoe dangling out over the front of it – shoppers (most) will stand clear. ;)

GWB on December 17, 2013 at 10:31 AM

you would be surprised just how far a 5’2″ Hmong teenager can be tossed when you utilize the hood of their Raiders jacket.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

I’m going to ask Santa to bring you a Gran Torino for Christmas.

;-)

CurtZHP on December 17, 2013 at 10:31 AM

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM

9 mil out of what?

cozmo on December 17, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Now that we pay zero shipping with Amazon Prime, I’ve done all my shopping online. Also placed an order @ Kohl’s . com, with their brick/mortar store less than a mile from me, which is SUPER for returns.

I really, REALLY hate crowds of shoppers.
If I needed to visit an actual TRU, it would definitely be after a child’s normal bedtime.
Go for it, merchants.

pambi on December 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM

I can attest that retail sales are down.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I’m not spending as much. Too much uncertainty about 2014, the effects of Obamacare, the economy, the job situation, etc….

What (other than the birth of Christ) is there to celebrate this season?

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2013 at 10:33 AM

It’s probably not welcome news to Toys-R-Us managers, and not for the corporation itself. The accumulated debt of the venerable childrens’ toy store has become a lot less attractive recently, and Moody’s already has its paper in junk status. They need a big Christmas to get them out of the hole, but history is already working against them:

The Obamaeconomy just keeps on giving…..

There Goes the Neighborhood on December 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

those of us who worked Thanksgiving got an extra discount

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:21 AM

You mean they didn’t chain you to an oar and make you row to the beat of some big shirtless goon pounding a drum?

I’ll bet they didn’t give you any potty breaks.

/

CurtZHP on December 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

when you utilize the hood of their Raiders jacket.

Bishop on December 17, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Proof positive Bishop is hoodie raaaacist!

batter on December 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM

What (other than the birth of Christ) is there to celebrate this season?

Happy Nomad on December 17, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Well, for lots of folks, they still have jobs. Many of us are healthy or celebrating a loved one who has beaten one scourge or another. And, despite what government is trying to do, I still have my freedom.

And, biggest thing to celebrate? I know there are lots of other freedom-loving patriots out there, keeping their powder dry and waiting for the right opportunity to take back our legacy. So, keep your chin up, Nomad! Semper Libertas!

GWB on December 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM

cozmo on December 17, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Dunno.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:42 AM

CurtZHP on December 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Ha.
Pretended to work for a whole 5 hours and then went out to Cracker Barrel.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM

If memory serves, Toys-R-Us did this a few years back. It wasn’t a smashing success.

I guess the massive inventory increase in the third quarter (which accounted for half the real GDP increase as of the second reading, and that was with realistic inflation adjustment) isn’t exactly translating into fourth-quarter sales.

Steve Eggleston on December 17, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Many of those stores don’t display the word Christmas anywhere. Everything is referred to as Holiday gifts or you are greeted with Happy Holidays. Say Merry Christmas to the cashier and watch some of them look around to see if a supervisor is close by, if not, many respond with Merry Christmas. Otherwise, they’ve been told not to say the dreaded word, Christmas.

I’m hoping all those stores who decorate with red and green colors, twinkling lights, Santa Clauses, Reindeer and evergreen trees and are referring to Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Eid, Ramadan, or even Festivas as some of the holidays being represented in “Happy Holidays” make their sole revenues from those celebrants this “holiday” season.

iamsaved on December 17, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Oh, and don’t forget, the Obamacare stores are open 24 hours too. As an added incentive this Christmas season, they are offering free mammograms for the ladies and free prostate exams for the guys. Ho! Ho! Ho!

iamsaved on December 17, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Get off the buying frenzy hamster wheel folks!!! Just say NO.

My family has made the decision to no longer purchase any gifts for each other at Christmas. We are DONE with it. This is the second year for us, and I can’t tell you how liberating it is. We have decided we want the experience of going together somewhere, having a wonderful Christmas day doing whatever we want (think sleeping in late, enjoying a leisurely brunch, or skiing, snowmobiling, tubing/sledding, skating, fishing, snow shoeing, hot air balloon ride, surfing, taking in a show, working at a local shelter – whatever it is, wherever we decide to go), and we end the day by spending our $$ on a very nice Christmas meal at a very nice restaurant. Our waiter gets a VERY generous tip, too.

I am not bah-humbug by any means. I REALLY enjoy Christmas, as does my family. But, we are not buying “stuff” anymore. Frankly, a lot of it gets returned anyway. This is our way to make Christmas have a lot more meaning to us as a family. And I refuse to buy in any longer to the commercialism of it all. If every family would make the choice to tone it down, we all might find a way to get back to something truly real and meaningful at the holiday season.

littlekittie on December 17, 2013 at 11:37 AM

…oh, and we say Merry Christmas. I don’t give a rats you-know-what that other people think. It’s Christmas. That’s what we’re celebrating.

littlekittie on December 17, 2013 at 11:41 AM

I can attest that retail sales are down. At last week’s ‘Friday meeting’, my store manager informed us that we were short 9 million for the month of December. That was a budget short-and if we didn’t make it up by Christmas Eve , we would lose our first bonus of 2014.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM

I won’t pry into your personal affairs and this is not to paint all retailers/employees with the same brush but in almost every store of every segment I have noticed a shocking dropoff in quality.

Lefties can moan about ‘income inequality’ (while avoiding any talk of effort inequality) but the real gap is between the stack-em-high-sell-em-cheap stuff and the actual useful, long-lasting product, be it tools, clothing, household goods, etc.

Shoes are especially prone to this bifurcation. So-called luxury brands have been hollowed out by their common owners going the absolute cheapest route in materials and workmanship. Ignoring styling and price for a moment, if you close your eyes and pick up one of their offerings you can’t help be struck by the light weight. Claims about comfort and fighting fatigue are debunked quickly by the knowledge that such a flimsy product is incapable of standing up to daily wear. ‘Inexpensive’ shoes are still often well over $100/pair. And so it’s $300-350 for a pair of shoes that will provide adequate wear and support over time.

It’s one thing to have the Chinese produce our shoes, clothing, tools, etc., quite another to be endure their lax standards of quality.

jangle12 on December 17, 2013 at 12:07 PM

LL Bean’s flagship store in Freeport, ME is open 24hrs a day 365 days a year.

When I was stationed in NAS Brunswick, I’d often make the drive over at night just to shop without any tourists.

Plus the novelty of it was kinda fun.

The Ugly American on December 17, 2013 at 2:31 PM

I work 6:30PM-6:45AM(compressed shift). I like the idea of having more than Wal-Mart to go to when I’m awake. Looks like I get to check out Kohls.

Random Numbers (Brian Epps) on December 17, 2013 at 3:57 PM

If anything, stores should be closed in the morning and midday during the week when most people (used to be anyhow) are at work. Stores should be open from like 2 or 3 in the afternoon until midnight or one in the morning in my view.

But, I’m a vampire type anyway, so…

BTW, I’d probably frequent more small, local businesses if they didn’t have this fixation with either being closed on the weekends or be open early on the weekends and close early in the afternoon. No wonder so many go out of business rather quickly.

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 17, 2013 at 4:50 PM

No biggie here. I don’t think its a terrific idea, security wise, but if that’s what the corporation wants, its free to establish any range of hours of operation it wants to, and if it works out, so be it.

hawkeye54 on December 17, 2013 at 5:08 PM

I’m hoping all those stores who decorate with red and green colors, twinkling lights, Santa Clauses, Reindeer and evergreen trees and are referring to Kwanzaa, Hanukah, Eid, Ramadan, or even Festivas as some of the holidays being represented in “Happy Holidays” make their sole revenues from those celebrants this “holiday” season.

iamsaved on December 17, 2013 at 11:14 AM

I wonder how many shoppers are in this group?

After asking “Who needs Christ,” the digital billboard shows a hand crossing out Jesus’ name with a marker and text that answers the curiosity with a one word answer — “Nobody.” The next graphic tells viewers to “Celebrate the true meaning of XMAS.”

This “true meaning,” according to the billboard, includes charity, family, friends and food — all secular elements that are associated with Christmas. It concludes with the more general “Happy Holidays” greeting.

AesopFan on December 17, 2013 at 6:36 PM

iamsaved on December 17, 2013 at 11:14 AM

Jesus was Jewish. Hanukkah is Jewish. See?
*BTW:Though I’m Jewish-I wish my customers Merry Christmas.

annoyinglittletwerp on December 17, 2013 at 8:57 PM

Heh!

No family. Too old for a girlfriend. And no friends close enough to make a special shopping trip for.

Steaks for the dogs and salmon for the cats…and I don’t even have to cook that if I don’t want to. They don’t care.

The “Golden Years”.

Solaratov on December 17, 2013 at 10:12 PM