I have to admit that the latest Kohl's commercial really freaked me out. Starting on December 20 through December 24, Kohl's announced that it would not close, at all. So for close to 100 hours straight, the retailer would keep its stores in operation to cater to the throngs of people who desperately need Jennifer Lopez-designed threads at all hours of the night.
Many stores extend their hours around the holidays, but this just seemed like crazy talk to me!
I decided I should go check out a Kohl's; they're not all that easily accessible inside the Loop, I will have you know. In theory I would go at 3 a.m. to really be in the thick of the holiday madness, but I haven't seen 3 a.m. since Y2K was an actual threat. I opted for a much saner time: 4 p.m. on Monday, December 23.
The Kohl's I visited was fairly busy. If you assume that people have finished their holiday shopping by this point, you are sorely mistaken. The store was still pushing extreme reductions among the stacks of stocking stuffers and housewares. So at 4 p.m. the retailer was doing just fine, but what was going on 12 hours earlier?
I chatted with an upper-level manager, who asked to remain anonymous. She told me that while she hadn't drawn the short straw in the "who gets stuck working the overnight shifts" competition, her counterpart has reported very slow shopping during the late night hours.
"Up until midnight or one it's been OK, but three, four in the morning, really only one or two people were shopping," she says.
She mentioned that while her store hadn't raked in the late-night spendthrifts, she had heard tell of other Kohl's stores in the area that were doing better; how much better she couldn't say.
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When told that the store would be kept open for 100 hours straight, my contact "freaked out."
"I was like, oh no, I don't want to work all that time!" she recalls. No one, as she remembers, seemed all that jazzed about it, although she assumed that corporate must have been on to something to extend the hours like they have.
What about the shoppers? I asked a few people if they considered buying gifts at such witching hours and most people shook their head and quickly walked away from me; I guess they thought I was giving them some sort of weird proposition. But one chatty shopper looked at me, furiously shook her head and said, "Oh, hell no."
It was an experiment in retailing on Kohl's part; whether it worked I assume we will never know.