Why are Sears stores open Thanksgiving Day when most everyone else is closed?

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Where retailers were racing pell-mell to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day just a few years ago, the mood has changed, and now they're running in the other direction to remain closed on the holiday. Unfortunately, Sears Holdings (NASDAQ:SHLD) is one retailer that can't afford not to open its stores, as it needs every chance it gets to sell goods.

See other major retailers open on Thanksgiving:

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Complete list of store openings on Thanksgiving and Black Friday
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Complete list of store openings on Thanksgiving and Black Friday
Belk: Open 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 1 a.m. on Black Friday. Will reopen 6 a.m. on Black Friday.

Big Lots: Open 7 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving. Will reopen 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

Best Buy: Open 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 1 a.m. on Black Friday. Will reopen 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Costco: Open 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Black Friday.

Dick's Sporting Goods: Open 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 2 a.m. on Black Friday. Will reopen 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

Dollar General: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Will reopen 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

GameStop: Open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

hhgregg: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Home Depot: Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Black Friday.

JCPenney: Open 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Kmart: Open 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Kohl's: Open 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 12 a.m. on Saturday.

Lowe's: Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

Macy's: Open 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 2 a.m. on Black Friday. Will reopen 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Marshalls: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Michaels: Open 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 12 a.m. on Black Friday. Will reopen 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Nordstrom: Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday

Office Depot/OfficeMax: Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

Old Navy: Open 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 12 a.m. on Saturday.

PetSmart: Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

Sam's Club: Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

Sears: Open 6 p.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving. Will reopen 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Staples: Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Black Friday.

Target: Open 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

T.J. Maxx: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Toys R Us: Open 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 11 p.m. on Black Friday.

Victoria's Secret: Open 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

Walmart: Open 6 p.m. Thanksgiving through Black Friday.

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Not feeling very thankful

The trend to open up on Thanksgiving gained special impetus in 2013, when a quirk of the calendar meant there were fewer shopping days between Black Friday, the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season, and Christmas Day itself. At a time when the economy looked like it might be heading for a double-dip recession, retailers needed to squeeze every dollar out of consumers by taking advantage of every day available to them.

While there have been retailers such as Nordstrom, Home Depot, and Costco that resisted the urge and have always kept their doors shut, others, such as Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS), that initially followed the crowd eventually decided it wasn't worth it and announced last year they would stay closed. Some, like outdoors retailer REI, went even further and have said it wouldn't even open up on Black Friday.

Every day is Christmas

Holiday creep has reduced the impact Black Friday sales have on a retailer's fourth-quarter results. Wal-Mart has pushed the envelope for years on when it begins heavily discounting goods for Christmas, often using the Halloween weekend to put many items on sale.

Yet Sears is perhaps the poster child for giving an early kick-start for holiday sales, running Christmas in July sales and promoting the layaway program at its Kmart chain just as the kids went back to school in September.

So it's not a surprise that Sears is once again bucking the trend and opening its doors on Thanksgiving Day, even as the groundswell of opposition to the practice among employees and customers grows. The fact is, Sears needs to be open.

A lump of coal in its stocking

In its second-quarter earnings report, Sears said net sales tumbled 9% from the year-ago period, largely because of the number of stores it was closing, but also because same-store sales continued their decline, falling as they have every quarter for the past 11 years. Comps were down more than 3% at Kmart and off 7% at Sears.

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