ALBERTVILLE, Minn. - Thanksgiving is no longer spared from open stores and Christmas shopping, and this year at Albertville Premium Outlets, Christmas Eve won't be off limits either.
The mall has notified its tenants that stores will be required to remain open until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
That doesn't sit well with Matt Pohlkamp, who manages one of the mall's stores.
"It was a complete shock. It was a complete surprise," said Pohlkamp, who spoke to KARE 11 on the condition his store not be named, since he wasn't authorized to speak for his employer.
Pohlkamp, who has young children, said the mall should be more considerate to the employees who work at its stores and would prefer to spend Christmas Eve with their families.
In recent years, many stores have been opening not only in the wee hours of Black Friday, but even on Thanksgiving night.
"Open later on Christmas eve is definitely a new trend," said Bruce Nustad, president of the Minnesota Retailers Association. "Most retailers generate 20 to 40 percent of their income during the holiday season, of the revenue, so that's a high-pressure time."
The pressure will be even greater this year, due to a quirk of the calendar. Last year, retailers were treated to 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the most the calendar will allow.
But this year, it's just the opposite, 26 days, the least possible shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
In her letter to the stores, the Albertville outlet's general manager, Sally Dufner, cited the shorter shopping season as the reason for the mandatory 8 p.m. store closings, adding the extra hours will allow the mall to "capture as many last-minute sales as possible."
Dufner responded to KARE's request for an interview with a written statement issued through the outlet mall's owner, Simon Properties. In it she said each year the mall sees more shoppers "coming out right before Christmas." Dufner added the extra Christmas Eve hours will help "meet the demands of our excited shoppers."
KARE 11 reached out to several other Twin Cities malls. Ridgedale Shopping Center will close at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The Mall of America will close at 6 p.m., but plans to extend its hours on weekends before Thanksgiving to account for the shorter shopping season.
Pohlkamp says some store employees have threatened to quit if they are scheduled to work Christmas Eve. He's decided to work the shift himself so his other managers can have the evening off. He expects to make it home by 9 p.m. after closing up the store, past bedtime for his kids.
"So two hours is a lifetime," he said.