Every fourth Thursday in November is a holiday we all know as Thanksgiving. This day has been long celebrated in history; since 1863 to be exact.
Many recognize Thanksgiving as a day to express their gratefulness for what they have, but this year that idea was skewed in the opposite direction. This year, several retailers lured in millions of shoppers on the actual holiday itself, making Black Friday what I jokingly renamed “Black Thanksgiving.”
Kohl’s opened at midnight Nov. 22 while other retailers such as Toys R Us, Kmart and Walmart opened up later at 8 p.m. the same day. Target opened at 9 p.m., while Best Buy, JCPenney, Macy’s, Lowe’s and others waited until the next day, sticking to infamous Black Friday tradition.
Its seems each passing year, big name stores like Walmart and Target open earlier than the previous year, and corporate greed is to blame.
As someone who used to work at Target, I know these retailers continue to open earlier to capitalize the most from customer traffic. It is a retailer’s goal to lure in shoppers with discounts, gift cards and coupons so that they can continue to shop there during the rest of the holiday season.
However, it is not fair to take employees away from their families during one of the biggest holidays of the year just so that the company they work for can reap profits before competitors.
Although it is possible to understand that businesses must do what is in their best interests (i.e. to make money), I do not see a reason why sales cannot just continue on Black Friday as they have in years past. This would allow employees to have time with their family, not to mention actually eating dinner comfortably.
Spokespeople for retailers have released statements that the earlier times are to convenience their clientele and workers, but that reasoning is definitely flawed.
For one, employees were not happy to work during the holiday. Talks of possible protests by Walmart employees were covered in broadcasts by CNBC. Also, an online petition circulated, gaining more than 350,000 signatures in opposition of Target opening Thanksgiving evening; not only did employees sign the petition, but even several shareholders, according to an article on CNBC’s website.
Besides corporate greed being an issue in this case, shoppers priorities seem to also be in the wrong place.
According to ShopperTrak, which counts customer traffic in retail stores, approximately $11.2 billion in sales were made on Black Friday this year, a 1.8 percent drop from last year. This means that shoppers took the bait from retailers and took advantage of Thursday deals that are usually meant for the next day.
I find it very hard to understand the mentality behind standing in crazy lines and entering these madhouse retail stores on the day people give thanks for what they already have.
Having five years of Black Friday shifts under my belt, these shopping experiences are more of a hassle than anything else. Customers fight over the most petty things during these sales or childishly take items from each other’s shopping carts.
Instead of opening on Thanksgiving it would be wise for retailers to use the power of the Internet to their advantage. Having an online sale for customers the day of Thanksgiving would be a good alternative to having to actually open their doors during the holiday.
Not only would it be more convenient, but it would also prevent them from having to pay time-and-half to employees and avoid complaints such as the ones currently being voiced in the media.
All retail employees know that Black Friday is a work day, so retailers should let Thanksgiving remain a day off. Holidays such as Thanksgiving should revolve around the idea of spending time with the ones you love and care for not shopping.
Black Friday is one thing, but turning Thanksgiving from festive celebration into just another consumer frenzy sale is another.