NEW YORK — Macy’s Herald Square is opening for business on Thanksgiving Day, breaking a long-standing tradition of keeping it closed during the holiday, according to sources.

This story first appeared in the October 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We have not yet announced any specific plans for the holiday season beyond holiday hiring, but expect to outline them in more detail beginning later this month,” a Macy’s spokeswoman said.

Other sources said that Macy’s has already decided to open its Herald Square flagship, and possibly other stores, at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Some workers will be required to come in earlier to get the store ready. Last year, Macy’s opened at midnight on Black Friday and immediately drew a large crowd of shoppers.

Sources said Macy’s is feeling the pressure from competitors that have been opening earlier to get a jump on the Black Friday rush. In addition, it’s expected to be a highly competitive and promotional Christmas season, with industry forecasts for sales gains only in the 2 to 3 percent range.

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Last year, Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue and 38th Street blindsided the competition by opening for the first time on Thanksgiving Day, at 10 a.m. Lord & Taylor captured crowds from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Apparently, L&T generated enough business, since this year it will again open on Thanksgiving Day.

Macy’s is asking for volunteers among its staff to work on Thanksgiving, but if it doesn’t get enough, those with less seniority will be tapped first to come into work, sources said.

Last year, Lord & Taylor said it had enough associates volunteering to work the holiday. Lord & Taylor is owned by Hudson’s Bay Co., which is buying Saks Fifth Avenue in a deal that should be completed in November, before Thanksgiving. A Hudson’s Bay spokeswoman told WWD that there are no plans to open Saks Fifth Avenue on Thanksgiving. Bloomingdale’s and Bergdorf Goodman will also both remain closed on Thanksgiving.

The idea of opening stores on Thanksgiving is shocking to some, even retailers. “Isn’t there anything sacred? Once you open on Thanksgiving, then it will be Christmas,” said one former retail chief executive officer. “I just think it’s really trying to destroy the basic value systems on which this country was founded.”

The source also questioned how beneficial operating on Thanksgiving could be. “It costs a lot to staff the stores,” said the source. But many stores think it’s worth it. Among those with a track record of opening stores at various hours on Thanksgiving are Wal-Mart, Gap, Toys ‘R’ Us, Kmart, Walgreens and CVS. Many more stores open at midnight or early in the morning of Black Friday.

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