Black Friday’s invasion of Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, more consumers than ever will be cutting out early from their family gatherings and dinners so they can take advantage of Thanksgiving Day shopping deals. It’s a major departure from the shopping environment just 10 years ago, when the idea of shopping on a major holiday like Thanksgiving was a foreign concept.

All this, and more, has changed however.

In a recent article by Time Magazine, our generation, the Millennials, are to blame for stores being open for shopping on Thanksgiving, citing surveys that show the overwhelming support for stores to be open on the holiday come from our demographic.

Time reasons that Millennials, as opposed to older generations, have lived their lives under an atmosphere of hyper-consumerism where shopping is available 24/7 thanks to the internet.

Thus, in the last several years, the number of stores open for shopping on Turkey Day has risen along with the hours of operation.

Walmart, Target, Sports Authority and Best Buy will all be open on Thanksgiving and promise doorbustin’ values strategically set during specific time frames, say between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., for instance.

Is it not enough that these stores will open for business at a mind-numbing 6 a.m. the following day? No, it probably is not.

The fact is that while Millennials do seem more inclined to shop at least part of Thanksgiving Day, and sometimes all-day on Black Friday, retailers have been struggling to combat internet purchasing, which has “strangled” sales in their physical locations.

Retailers have tried creative ways to combat this. For example, if you want a specific pair of shoes but cannot find the pair in your size, a Sports Authority associate will gladly walk you through the process of ordering the pair online in a strategically placed in-store kiosk.

While this is a task one can easily do for him or herself, Sports Authority is countering that customer’s likely unwillingness to follow up with the purchase at home. Thus, the company arranges the online sale for the customer.

Consumers who object to Thanksgiving Day shopping argue that the holiday is meant to spend time with one’s family and friends, not engage in hyper-consumerism at the local Walmart.

“I don’t think that’s right,” said JJC student, Yesenia Villagomez, who also said that Thanksgiving was a time for family and friends and added that Black Friday shopping was a “waste of time.”

But the biggest burden is not shouldered by mom and her uneaten pumpkin pie, it’s shouldered by the retail workers who already have to sacrifice a tremendous amount of extra time around the holidays on the job. Now they find themselves not only working all day on Black Friday, but also the day before, when in there, and pretty much everyone else’s minds, they should be home with family.

Pushback has come not only from consumers, but also from the industry itself. A number of retailers, such as Sam’s Club, T.J. Maxx, and Home Depot, are defiantly choosing not to open on Thanksgiving.

These companies choose to do this specifically so they can promote the fact that they are not open on Thanksgiving, and therefore are not ruining the holiday for consumers or their workers.

A spokesperson for TJX, which runs retail brands such as Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx, recently told ThinkProgress,

“We consider ourselves an Associate-friendly Company, and, we are pleased to give our Associates the time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.” Charming sentiment. But it’s one that also inspires cynicism and doubt, particularly in the Blazer.

Are retailers really that concerned about their associates? If they are that concerned and thoughtful, how about paying them a livable wage instead?

It seems more likely that retail workers would readily jump at the opportunity to work on a holiday if their wages matched the level of work they actually do. Because as it stands, their work and compensation do not match.

But cynicism aside, it is fair to say with confidence that the employees of these stores certainly appreciate the holiday off. Because each of them know that at 6 a.m. the next day, all hands will be on deck to deal with the massive influx of Black Friday shoppers.

So next time you go shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, think twice about the unreasonable burden placed on retail employees.

Instead, settle in for a day of family, football, mom’s pumpkin pie and the guaranteed comatose feeling you will likely experience the next day from weighing five pounds more.

Rich Maska

Rich Maska

Former Co-Editor from Fall 2013 to Spring 2015. Some of my proudest articles that I have contributed was covering budget issues for JJC's City Center Campus and a March Board of Trustee meeting where a cut in the funding for the school's clubs was being considered. Some 60 students, all club members, attended in a show of support for campus clubs. I am majoring in history, and would like to be an author and university professor.