By and  on December 17, 2008

Big retailers across the country are cutting costs across the board, with one exception — their holiday store hours.

Target Corp., Sam’s Club, Kohl’s Corp. and Macy’s Inc. all said Monday they are extending hours in anticipation of a last-minute holiday shopping rush.

Macy’s starts round-the-clock operations on Friday at 6 a.m. at six locations, and builds with another seven units on Saturday at 6 a.m. Five more Macy stores will extend operating hours to 2 a.m.

The intensified schedule advances a strategy begun in 2006 when the Macy’s in the Queens Center Mall became the first unit in the chain to go round the clock for Christmas shopping. Last year, eight Macy’s stores were open all day and night, including the Herald Square flagship. This year there will be 13. All the stores involved are operated by the Macy’s East division of Macy’s Inc.

Last year, Herald Square and six other units started 24-hour operations Dec. 21, while the Queens Center store started Dec. 20.

While shopping has not met expectations of many retailers, some chains still feel staying open longer, or even 24/7 in the final days before Christmas — at certain locations at least — is worth the extra costs. Macy’s chairman and chief executive Terry Lundgren recently stated he believes there could be pent up demand, considering how slow retailing was in the fall. The National Retail Federation suggested there should be a significant last-minute shopping surge by reporting Tuesday that on average, consumers completed 47.1 percent of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, about 10 percent less than the 52.6 percent average completed this time last year. The finding was based on a “holiday consumer intentions and actions survey” of 8,860 consumers conducted for NRF by BIGresearch, Dec. 2-9. The poll also found that over 41 million people have not started their holiday shopping, with the biggest procrastinators being men (20.7 percent haven’t started) and 35- to 44-year-olds (20.9 percent). Only 8 percent of shoppers said they finished their shopping.

NRF thinks discounters and department stores will get the bulk of last-minute shoppers.

“By going 24 hours at 13 key locations and extending store hours at another five, we are giving our customers extra time to shop when it’s convenient for them and to take the stress out of holiday shopping,” said Ron Klein, chairman and ceo of Macy’s East.

The majority of Wal-Mart Supercenters are open 24 hours year-round. Wal-Mart’s general merchandise stores have extended their hours from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Sam’s Club’s holiday hours have been lengthened for the lead-up to Christmas, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Normal hours for Sam’s are 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Kohl’s stores will be open 7 a.m. to midnight today through Friday. The retailer will open at 5 a.m. Saturday. Sunday through Dec. 23 will see stores operating between 6 a.m. and midnight. On Christmas Eve, Kohl’s opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.

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