Kohl's to request extended hours

Kohl's to request extended hours

Michele Ellson

Alameda South Shore Center anchor Kohl’s is asking the Planning Board to extend its hours for this coming holiday season and beyond.

The department store chain’s managers want to open their Alameda store on midnight on “Black Friday” – the traditional post-Thanksgiving start to the holiday shopping season – and 5 a.m. the day after Christmas, and they’d like to extend their hours to 11 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for the entire year.

The company is not requesting any changes to the hours trucks may make deliveries to the 77,661-square-foot store. Truck traffic to the shopping center has in the past been a major issue for its neighbors.

“These holiday and evening sales are vital to the consumers making them and to the stores serving those customers, including Kohl’s,” the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer’s director of property development law, Sarah J. Ryan, wrote in an October 9 letter requesting the changes.

In her letter, Ryan said that Kohl’s makes 28 percent of its sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and its Alameda, store attracts an average of 1,250 customers a day during the holiday shopping season, the retailer’s application to extend its local hours says.

The National Retail Federation, a trade organization representing retailers, anticipates holiday sales will grow by 4.1 percent over 2011 according to the results of a recent survey. Nearly 37 percent of the people the Federation surveyed said sales and discounts will be the factor that guides where they’ll shop this holiday season. More than 40 percent said they’d start their holiday shopping before Halloween.

Major retailers are moving up their post-Thanksgiving “Black Friday” hours, with Walmart, Target and Sears all announcing they’ll open their doors to holiday shoppers on Thanksgiving night. Retailers had in prior years opened their doors to deal-driven shoppers at 4 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving and then, midnight. Kohl’s managers say they need to change their hours to remain competitive with these other discount retailers.

When Kohl’s opened in Alameda in 2009 – in the space that held Mervyn’s before that discount department store chain went bankrupt – the chain was allowed to remain open between 6 a.m. and midnight for the duration of the holiday season, which was considered to be between Thanksgiving and January 1, and earlier on “Black Friday” and the day after Christmas. In 2010 the Planning Board extended the holiday hours back to November 1; the local store’s regular holiday hours are the same as every other Kohl’s within 25 miles of it, according to Kohl’s website.

City staffers, who recommended accepting the increased hours, said they wouldn’t pose much of an impact to the residents who surround the shopping center because many other retailers in the shopping center are already allowed to stay open as late or later. They agreed with Kohl’s position that the extended hours could increase the city’s sales tax take, instead of sending those dollars to Kohl’s stores in nearby cities that already offer the extended hours.

Kohl’s Ryan said the enhanced hours will also preserve employment at the store, which has 10 full-time and 80-part time employees along with 20 seasonal workers, while city staffers said the changes could demonstrate to other retailers that the shopping center would be a good place for them to plant a store.

The retailer also requested a change in the conditions under which its extended hours could be revoked. Under Kohl’s proposed terms, the retailer would have to be open beyond its agreed-upon hours twice in one month to face the loss of its extended hours.

City staffers are recommending that the city’s conditions be changed to say that Kohl’s would need to commit two violations within a 12-month period before facing the loss of its extended hours.

The retailer earned a reported $18.8 billion in revenue in 2011 across 1,127 stores in 49 states. The typical customer for its assortment of moderately-priced clothing and footwear, accessories, jewelry, home goods and furniture is a married, middle-income woman between the ages of 25 and 54.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. today (Tuesday, November 13) in Council Chambers at City Hall. The board’s agenda and materials are here, and the meeting will be broadcast on Comcast cable channel 15.