Merry Christmas we're open
More retailers, restaurants to tap Saturday for sales
This year, more Maryland restaurants, groceries and other retailers plan to keep their doors open on Christmas Day, which falls on usually the busiest day of the week for them Saturday.
For many restaurants, a Saturday Christmas is about the unluckiest scenario just when the industry is trying to climb out of the Great Recession. Not only do most eateries typically close to give employees Christmas off, but most close early on Christmas Eve Friday, which usually is another busy day.
Saturday night is typically the busiest evening of the week for restaurants, followed by Friday evening, said Melvin R. Thompson, senior vice president for government affairs and public policy with the Restaurant Association of Maryland. But he didn't know of many restaurants staying open Saturday to catch customers.
"There are a few that stay open for Christmas, but I don't think we are seeing a sea change here," Thompson said.
Christmas is not one of those holidays such as Valentine's Day when many people think about eating out, he said.
Many Asian restaurants typically remain open on Christmas, but more Italian, steak and seafood establishments have joined them in recent years.
"We've been open on Christmas Day for a few years now," said Ralph DeRose, managing partner of Timpano Chophouse. The menu of the Rockville restaurant includes steak, Italian and seafood dishes.
Although some McCormick & Schmick's Seafood locations in other states are closing on Christmas, all five in Maryland, including those in Bethesda and at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Normandie Farm in Potomac is offering a dinner buffet until 8 p.m. on Christmas.
More groceries and drug and convenience stores have stayed open on Christmas Day in recent years. More than half of Giant Food's Maryland stores will be open for limited hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday said spokesman Jamie Miller.
"We want to continue to meet the needs of the community, but still give our associates an opportunity to be with their families on that day," Miller said. "That is consistent with what we have done the last few years."
Stores don't have problems finding employees to work that day, he said.
Many Safeway groceries and CVS drugstores also have remained open Christmas Day in recent years.
Patrick Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, said he hasn't heard of any department stores or conventional gift shops planning to stay open on Christmas in the state. Some, such as Toys "R" Us, are staying open late on Christmas Eve to catch last-minute customers. Toys "R" Us stores even stayed open for 24 hours several days this week.
"I would think that there would not be a big crowd of people wanting to go out shopping on Christmas Day," Donoho said.
Donoho said he continues to hear "pretty good" feedback from retailers about holiday sales, which are expected to be 1 percent to 2 percent over last year's.
"Though that depends who you talk to," he said. "People are shopping for value this year."