The Mall of America is – gasp! – not opening on Thanksgiving this year

The Mall of America has plans for Thanksgiving.

Opting to zag after recent years of zigging along with almost everyone else, the Mall of America will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

The mall said in a news release Wednesday it will keep its doors shut that Thursday as a way to "give the holiday back" to its 15,000 employees. The mall will then open at 5 a.m. Friday for the annual bonkers-level start to the holiday shopping craze.

"You know what, taking a look at the Thanksgiving holiday we know that it's a day for families and the people that we care about," Senior Vice President of Marketing Jill Renslow told GoMN. "We want to make sure that our employees get that opportunity to spend the holiday at home, enjoying football, enjoying turkey, and those traditions with the family."

The mall does note individual stores or restaurants can chose to be open, and there will be key personnel in place at the megamall to make sure things run smoothly. Exactly how many staff members that is will depend on how many places open, Renslow said. Any stores that do decide to open will be listed on the mall's website.

But the movie theater and Nickelodeon Universe, which are owned and operated by the mall, will for the first time not be operating at all on Thanksgiving, she added.

An exception will be the Walk to End Hunger, which has taken place every Thanksgiving morning there for the past eight years.

Going against the trend

Mall of America first opened on Thanksgiving in 2012, at midnight into Black Friday, Renslow said. In 2013 the mall opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and the past two years it's been 6 p.m.

That's been the trend from retailers as well, including Target (which opened at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving last year) and Best Buy (5 p.m. last year).

There's been a growing disgruntled-ness from the public about Thanksgiving shopping hours in recent years, as retailers have pushed the opening earlier and earlier. Groups like Boycott Black Thursday have been gaining support from unhappy Americans, and Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day even had a naughty/nice list of stores last year.

And check out these Change.org petitions, which tens of thousands of people signed (electronically) to encourage places to stay closed on Thanksgiving.

When asked if the recent public reaction to Thanksgiving shopping played a part in Mall of America's decision, Renslow simply said, "It's about our employees and making sure they have that time with their families."

Black Friday will probably be nuts

Of course, the mall is all in on shopping the day after.

It'll open at 5 a.m. (last year it was open through the night), and plans on having "great festivities" to start the holiday shopping season, Renslow said.

That includes a "virtual North Pole" including Santa and elves at the north entrance, plus "surprise gifts for thousands of guests, special musical performances, hundreds of exclusive offers" and more, the mall's news release says.

Renslow said the Mall of America generally gets about 400,000 guests in the doors over the Black Friday shopping weekend. They don't break it down day-by-day, so how many specifically have showed up on Thursday night isn't known, she said.

The mall also doesn't keep traffic of sales or money spent over the weekend.

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