Do you really need to start Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving Day has been designated as the day to give thanks for all of our many blessings. Generally, most of us will have a huge meal and probably eat more than we should. At my house, after the meal we play board games, watch football games, watch family videos, Skype out of town relatives, take naps, eat more, go to sleep, and get up early for Black Friday sales. This is the plan I have followed for years, but now stores have decided that we want to shop on Thanksgiving Day and they will be open to accommodate “our” desire. Well, it’s not my desire and I know most of the people working Thanksgiving Day really would love to be huddled up at home with a turkey leg and some pumpkin pie. Is this a response to the cries of the customers or have retailers made a decision to open and they have shifted the blame to the customer? A petition has been started asking Target to reconsider their decision. One of the signees offered the following analysis: In a petition titled “Target: Take the high road and save Thanksgiving”, and posted to, a woman by the name of C Renee writes to the president and CEO of Target Corp.: I’m not complaining about being a minimum wage worker. Target, as a company, does some good and maintains a commitment to charity. “Thanksgiving, though, is one of the three days retail workers get off a year, a day most spend with family. The issue is not black Friday, though it’s not exactly this country’s shining moment. Every year the opening time gets pushed up more and more. Midnight last year was pushing it. How can you expect workers to spend time with family and then stay up all night? It’s inhumane and inconsiderate. You are most likely tucked away in bed while workers are in the stores pushing back a rabid crowd of shoppers trying to get an iPod. A 9 p.m. opening disgusts me and symbolizes everything that is wrong with this country. Give Thanksgiving back to families. The world won’t end if people have wait 7 more hours to buy useless junk that will be outdated in a year anyway.” What do you think is this fair to the workers? Will you be shopping on Thanksgiving?

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  • Suldog  On November 14, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve been trying to fight this stuff for years now. You might like what I had to say…

    (It’s wordy, but from the heart 🙂 )

  • Bill  On November 15, 2012 at 2:12 am

    While I appreciate your sentiments about how you choose to spend your Thanksgiving Holiday it sounds to me as though your activities are steeped in tradition. As we’re often reminded, America is an agglomeration of assorted ethnicities and cultures, many which have no connection to the traditions that many of us who are native born observe. Therefore I think it might be presumptuous to assume that everyone who is employed by Target shares the expressed concern.

    Aside from that, people who choose to accept employment in retail businesses, implicitly accept the idea that work hours are usually variable, extremely demanding and are likely to require working on holidays and weekends. That applies to workers in other professions as well such as police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers and individual employed in scores of other occupations. I suspect many of them would enjoy spending Thanksgiving evening with close friends and family as well.

    The fact is, anyone who seeks to employ someone to do any type of job gets to establish the terms of required hours of work, functions to be performed as well as the rate of pay. If any of the terms of employment are not satisfactory to a current or prospective employee, in a free market they are free to refuse to accept those terms and refuse to work there.

    To the issue of Target and other retailers making the decision to be open during this time, anyone who follows such economic data is likely to be aware of declining retail sales. For many retailers, if they fail to enjoy a successful Christmas shopping season, many of their employees will have a bigger problem than having to work on a holiday.

    • elogam  On November 18, 2012 at 3:16 am

      Bill, for like the third time in my recollection, I have to disagree with you.

      Target, Walmart and others are opening on Thanksgiving Day to compete with their nemesis, Research shows that people are pushing back from the table and, instead of watching my Cowboys apply a beatdown to the Washington Redskins, they are planning on spending their money online. I believe in capitalism, but not unbridled and unprincipled capitalism. The History Channel’s recent series “The Men Who Built America” was a fantastic presentation. They took the opportunity to contrast how Carnegie abused his workforce with long hours and low wages for the sake of profit, and how Ford eliminated waste, instituted efficiency, embraced a 40 hour work week and paid his workers a wage that enabled them to purchase the cars they were making. If you treat your employees well-even if you pay them slightly less than unionized employers-they will move mountains for you. In fact, treating your employees well is the best way to keep unions from disrupting your business.

      Police officers, firefighters, healthcare workers and the like do pull duty on Thanksgiving, but they usually get a premium to their already significant pay. When I was stationed in Germany I too worked on both Thanksgiving and Christmas. But my command made sure we had a tremendous meal and made duty as light and enjoyable as the mission allowed. Retail is not a mission essential job. Nobody is going to die or go broke if the stores do not open by 6AM. Amazon could very easily have decided to start Black Friday ON Friday, but they wanted to jump the gun. They can afford to do so because they are virtual. They can have some minion in a third world country handle order taking. As a retailer I’d like to think I could bite the bullet and hold my ground for the sake of principle. I’d offer an additional 5% to customers who were willing to bypass Amazon and come in at 6. And I’d be loud and proud about it, wrapping myself in the American flag all the way.

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