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AUSTIN, Texas; LAKELAND, Fla.; and CHANDLER, Ariz. -- In a sign of the competitive times being experienced by the grocery industry, a number of supermarkets are choosing to stay open on Thanksgiving Day to gain sales from last-minute shoppers. In the case of Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods, however, Massachusetts state law is mandating that it must remain closed.
Whole Foods had planned to open its 14 Massachusetts stores on Thanksgiving, but the state's attorney general, Thomas Reilly, told the company that it risked criminal charges if it did so, according to a report in The Boston Globe.
Reilly's ruling comes from Massachusetts' "blue laws," which mandate that convenience stores and gas stations are the only retailers that can be open on three holidays -- Christmas, New Year's Day, and Thanksgiving.
Reilly learned about Whole Foods' plans to stay open after competitor Shaw's Supermarkets, Inc., a division of Albertsons, lodged a complaint, according to the report.
Meanwhile Chandler, Ariz.-based Bashas', Inc. alerted its members in a memo that virtually all Bashas' locations will be open on Thanksgiving. This is only the second year that the company has been open on that holiday in its 73 years of service. Bashas' said it is "very concerned about accommodating members' needs," so stores will be open limited hours, and shifts will be short. Hourly members are being asked to volunteer if they can.
In the memo, Bashas' defends its choice by noting that Thanksgiving is a busy shopping day. "Our Thanksgiving sales last year proved that," the company noted. Since its mission is to exceed customers' expectations, the company doesn't want to turn away faithful customers to its competitors, the memo went on to say.
At least one retailer is keeping its staunch position on staying closed for Thanksgiving. Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix has never been open on Thanksgiving in its 75-year history, spokeswoman Maria Brous told Progressive Grocer. The company is also closed on Christmas Day and Easter Sunday.
"Thanksgiving is a time to share with our families and friends," explained Brous. "Our associates work hard all year long to service our customers and their families. This is one day for our associates to reflect on what they are most grateful for and enjoy the holiday with their loved ones."