Well, it’s safe to say that the extended holiday season has begun. Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and from then on, it’s been about 30 days since “All I Want For Christmas Is You” is repeated on the radio. Yes, there are foods that can be eaten dangerously, holiday movies, hopefully not too much snow and gifts. Lots of presents. And with gifts comes gift shops.
For a few years now, there’s been a problem with stores opening earlier and earlier for Black Friday deals. Many large stores have dispensed with the ‘early bird’ and even the ‘night owl’ and have opted to open as soon as the turkey is cut on Thursday evening. Kohl’s, Walmart, Target and other major stores plan to open around 6 p.m. Thursday and remain open all Friday. Others open later on Thursday and close for a few hours before re-opening early Friday morning.
For many people, these early shopping strategies leave a bad taste in their mouths, and it’s not because of that one casserole you should at least try, because “you only see them once a year honey, so don’t be rude and eat some Aunt Ruth has brought, otherwise there will be no cake for you.” Thanksgiving is considered by most to be one of the few days of the year when family can get together and enjoy each other’s company. They feel that companies are encroaching on Thanksgiving values by enticing people to come over and buy that TV you don’t really need but is way too cheap to say no to. This is not a new idea; companies operate and in some cases have created holidays for the positive numbers they get from sales. It doesn’t even take long to say that the true meaning of Christmas is a strong fourth quarter report.
A big problem with opening on Thanksgiving is having to man the stores on Thanksgiving. For those who don’t have big plans, the time and a half they get from work is a pretty good deal, if they can manage their stress from hordes of crazy shoppers. But for the others who have family or friendly appointments, being whisked away on Thanksgiving can be a real pain. The backlash some businesses get for even considering opening on Thanksgiving has been so powerful that it’s become big publicity for those who want to stay closed. Traditionally closed on Thanksgiving, Costco still enjoys good sales during the shopping season and has been lauded by many for keeping its doors closed. The Mall of America has even said they plan to close on Thanksgiving, and despite initial doubts about whether or not the mall’s stores would cooperate, both retailers and consumers have defended the mall’s decision.
It’s hard to ask people to work on Thanksgiving. And the hope is that all employees who work on Thursdays and other major holidays will do so as they choose. If not, stores should consider whether it’s fair or profitable enough to force people to keep their families working while the executives enjoy dinner at home. But these retailers can’t be all blamed either. Business is driven by success and positive numbers. And for many of these stores, their numbers are drawn to the more convenient form of online shopping. I know that for me I will be doing most of my shopping online, and I’m not alone. It is the rise of online shopping that hurts the bottom line of these companies. Is that a valid reason to open on Thanksgiving? Secure. But there’s no way you’ll get off the hook without some flak earned.
Ultimately, those who don’t like the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving won’t, and those who do will. The people with nothing better to do work Thursday and Friday, and the people busy with Thanksgiving (hopefully) don’t. It’s vacation, so do what you want! Go shopping, watch football, eat stuffing, sleep, just enjoy time the way you want and start the holidays off right.