Guest Author - Sue Walsh
The decision by some major retailers to jump start Black Friday by opening on Thanksgiving has prompted outrage by many. Kmart, Toys R Us, Walgreens, Dollar General, Big Lots, Best Buy, Old Navy, JC Penney, Macy’s, Sears, Target and more all plan to open at some point on Thanksgiving Day, with Kmart having the earliest time at 6am. The decision was likely prompted by weak sales-Kmart and Sears have been struggling for the last few years, and many other retailers are feeling the effects of an uncertain economy. A shortened holiday season is also a factor.
The move prompted accusations of greed by both consumers and retail employees alike, and some have dubbed the holiday “Black Thanksgiving”. While some say employees should be grateful to have a job and for the extra pay, the fact is many of them aren't getting much extra at all. Some stores are offering free meals or small discounts, but few are offering holiday pay. The other argument is that no one forces the employees to work, they’re all volunteers and want to be there. It’s true that some employees probably don’t mind, the recent news story about a Pizza Hut employee who was fired for saying he didn't want to work on Thanksgiving is proof that many employees don’t have much of a choice at all. Is that fair? Many say no way. Retail employees deserve to spend the holiday with their families just like everyone else.
There was a time when so-called “Blue Laws” ruled most of the country, keeping stores closed on holidays and Sundays, but Sunday closures are long in the past and only a handful of states, most in New England, still have laws on the books prohibiting stores from opening on holidays.
Is the Black Friday hype getting out of hand? Incidents in the past involving violence and even deaths among crazed shoppers fighting to get a deal suggest it is. Yet many major retails continue to encourage it. Old Navy for example advertised a Black Friday contest. The clothing retailer, opening at 7 pm Thanksgiving night, said they’d give away $1 million dollars to a lucky shopper and encouraged people to get their place in line early, since only the first 500 are eligible to win.
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