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Black Friday slips into 'Grey Thursday' : Will you boycott stores opening on Thanksgiving?

JMCC 2012/11/14 17:22:25
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For decades, Thanksgiving has been sacrosanct for Americans – a non-denominational national celebration, and a guaranteed family holiday for most big companies. For retailers, it's also the day before Black Friday, the shopping bacchanal that marks the start of the holiday season.

Now Black Friday is slipping into "Grey Thursday" and taking retail workers with it. Walmart will open its doors at 8pm on Thanksgiving Day. Others, including Sears, Toys R Us and Kmart, will also open at 8pm on Thanksgiving. Target opens at 9pm. Gap is planning to open 1,100 of its stores. Retail experts predict that if this year proves a hit, stores will open earlier next year.

Goebel, 61, lost her daughter to cancer in 2007. She, too, worked at Walmart. This year Goebel was planning to spend the holiday with her husband and her granddaughter. "An experience like that makes you realise what's important," said Goebel.

Sam Walton, Walmart's hard-driven founder, once visited the store in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where Goebel works. She believes he would have been horrified by what has become of his company. "He was a hell of a businessman, but he had respect for the people who worked for him," she said. "To me, this is pure greed."

Walmart workers are planning strike action over the Thanksgiving holiday, supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and OUR Walmart, an associate led group that in October helped organise the first strike at the retailer in its 70-year history.

A Walmart spokesman said "a very small number of associates" were raising concerns. "While the opinions expressed by this group don't represent the views of the vast majority of the more than 1.3 million Walmart associates in the US, when our associates bring forward concerns, we listen. Associates have direct lines of communication with their management team and we work to understand their concerns," he said.

"Last year, our highest customer traffic during the Black Friday weekend was during the 10pm hour on Thursday. According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving night shopping has surged over the past three years. Most of our stores are open 24 hours and, historically, much of our Black Friday preparations have been done on Thanksgiving, which is not unusual in the retail industry."

Walmart is not the only retailer facing a backlash from staff. Casey St Clair, 24, was so incensed by Target's decision to cancel Thanksgiving for her and her colleagues that she set up a petition on Change.org, lobbying the retailer's CEO for action. It now has over 200,000 signatures.

"Every year the opening gets earlier and earlier. Before long, we will be open all day on Thanksgiving," she said. "Thanksgiving is a day about families, and giving thanks for what we have got. There are a lot of single parents at Target. This just ruins the holiday for them."

She said she had been surprised by management's attitude to the holiday. "I have always enjoyed working here and they have always seemed flexible," she said. But not about this. "Their attitude seems to be: if you don't turn up for work, you don't have a job."

It's not hard to see why retailers are prepared to make their staff so unhappy. Last year, about 28.7 million people did their Black Friday shopping on Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Retail Federation, up from 22 million in 2010. The number is still less than a third of the roughly 86 million shoppers who took to stores on Black Friday itself, but it's growing, and likely to continue the trend this year.

Dan de Grandpre, CEO of Dealnews.com, a shopping deals tracking service, said Grey Thursday was here to stay. "Last year, Target and Walmart did it, and they were very successful. Stores that sat it out like JC Penney, for example, suffered," he said.

Retailers are aiming to capture as much of the money that shoppers have set aside for shopping as early as possible, said Grandpre. If the competition isn't open, they are potentially losing out.

"It's very tough for employees and it's a big decision to make, but if the consumers are willing to shop, the stores are willing to do it," said Grandpre. If stores benefit again this year, he expects even earlier opening times next year.

But Grandpre said that Dealnews's research showed 70% of the deals were available online, and that anyone expecting to avoid lines by arriving on Thanksgiving is likely to be disappointed. "Realistically, if the shop opens at 8pm on Thanksgiving, you are going to have to be there several hours earlier to make sure of getting the best deals," he said. With so many deals available online, Grandpre says he finds it hard to see the point.

Goebel, too, believes customers will eventually push back against Thanksgiving opening. "I truly believe that people would rather be spending the day with their families than spending it in line," she said.



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Top Opinion

  • bags the Indigenous Guru 2012/11/14 18:06:10
    Yes...
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +4
    This is how a tradition dies, a culture dies. One small thing after another falls to the ground, like grains of sand through your fingers. And then, you look, and there is nothing left in your hands. Thanksgiving (mind who this is coming from now) is a day for family and for giving thanks for them, and our lives and all that we have. But now, when we view the family nuclear unit as near sacred, Mammon raises his head and says, y'know..bet we could make MORE $$ by opening ON Thanksgiving. So, dinners will be cut short, families will leave to go home earlier so that they can make it to work in time so that their store can beat another store by 12 flipping hours - and Thanksgiving will be relegated to just a fancy Sunday dinner with a turkey.

    And I am NOT going to support that.

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  • Candy 2012/11/22 03:56:41
    Yes...
    Candy
    +1
    Families already spend way too little time together as it is! No wonder there are so many affairs and children often do not even know their parents hardly, much less their grandparents and other relatives. Many parents barely even know their own children. This is very sad and extremily destructive to our society! We are simply all too busy with things not nearly as important as our relationships with each other. Work is important, but it should never usurp itself on us so much that it keeps us from investing in the lives of those who should be more important to us then anyone else in the world. Thank God for those who value family enough to say no I am not going to cut into family time just to go shopping on one of the few days most of us still have to spend with our families and thank God for all of those who realize that being asked to work on a holiday such as Thanksgiving unless you are emergency workers is stupid and very wrong and will fight to not have to work on that day! Shame on all the store executives who are so greedy that a profit is more important to you then families and as for you who would say "Well I don't care about it because I don't have family or I don't spend Thanksgiving with my family anyway shame on you for being so selfish you only think about yourself and not others who would like to have all Thanksgiving off to spend with their families.
  • Ahrtal 2012/11/20 15:52:12
    No...
    Ahrtal
    I'm too busy sliding down this slippery slope.....
  • JM 2012/11/20 14:18:02
    Yes...
    JM
    +1
    I am very disappointed with several of my favorite stores choosing to move in this direction. It is not just about shopping a few hours earlier, what about the workers who have to come in to work so that we can. We are taking away their time with there family and time to be off and enjoy the holiday. Come on give them a break friday will be crazy enough without moving it to Thursday
  • Joanne1225 2012/11/20 13:33:25
    Yes...
    Joanne1225
    +1
    Thanksgiving is a day for families and for giving thanks for what we have. I love to shop on BLACK FRIDAY, but it shouldn't begin before 6 a.m. on FRIDAY. Let's preserve our families and the Thanksgiving holiday. BOYCOTT stores by not shopping before 6 a.m. on Black Friday. There WILL be great sales, we don't need to shop on Thanksgiving or before the morning of Black Friday. Let's do this for each other.
  • Iconoclast1919 2012/11/15 09:41:05
    Yes...
    Iconoclast1919
    +1
    This is not about the stores being open on Thanksgiving really, it's Black Friday that is the real issue. Black Friday is a HUGE deal where ALL employees are required to work. Starting Black Friday on Thursday, Thanksgiving night, forces not just SOME employees, but almost all of them to be at work that night. They would not be able to be with their families. Also, a lot of people rely on and look forward to the Black Friday hugely discounted merchandise. Those items are in a very limited supply, so in effect, starting the Black Friday deals on Thursday night will cause many people who would normally be relaxing with their families to be at the store on that night instead. There is no advantage that I can see for the stores, the employees, or the families. All I see is misery which is created by starting the late evening before instead of early in the morning on Friday like it normally would be. Not only does it cause misery, but it definitely takes the focus away from a very important American holiday of being with family and giving thanks. Are those hours gained by opening the night before worth all that?!!! I don't think so. No, not at all.
  • timothy.hill.14 2012/11/15 06:08:16
    No...
    timothy.hill.14
    I'm not going to boycott stores I patronize the rest of the year, I'm just not going to shop them during their sales.
  • umapathy Krishnamurthy 2012/11/15 00:42:30
    Yes...
    umapathy Krishnamurthy
  • Fran-Halen 2012/11/14 23:25:48
    Yes...
    Fran-Halen
    +1
    Getting trampled used to be fun...
  • misterz 2012/11/14 20:46:07
    No...
    misterz
    Indifferent to the whole thing.
  • Beat Magnum True Hero 2012/11/14 20:37:31
    No...
    Beat Magnum True Hero
    Such a silly thing to get upset over. Some people live alone and can't get home for Thanksgiving. Why not?
  • Cleaver62 2012/11/14 20:36:47
    No...
    Cleaver62
    I won't boycott them because I wouldn't shop during a Black Friday event even if you paid me. I hate crowds. I hate shopping. I hate stores. I hate shopping in crowded stores. You can have your Black Friday... I'll be sitting home relaxing.
  • freakoutnow... cuz mom's here 2012/11/14 18:37:40
    Undecided
    freakoutnow... cuz mom's here
    It depends on the store. If it's a store with a strong grocery component than I can see them being open on Thanksgiving till 1'o clock in case someone forgot something or had to do an unexpected meal on Thanksgiving. However then they should be closed untill at least midnight.
  • D.C. Willis 2012/11/14 18:08:29
    Undecided
    D.C. Willis
    +2
    I will not boycott per se, but have no intentions to shop that day just the same.
  • bags the Indigenous Guru 2012/11/14 18:06:10
    Yes...
    bags the Indigenous Guru
    +4
    This is how a tradition dies, a culture dies. One small thing after another falls to the ground, like grains of sand through your fingers. And then, you look, and there is nothing left in your hands. Thanksgiving (mind who this is coming from now) is a day for family and for giving thanks for them, and our lives and all that we have. But now, when we view the family nuclear unit as near sacred, Mammon raises his head and says, y'know..bet we could make MORE $$ by opening ON Thanksgiving. So, dinners will be cut short, families will leave to go home earlier so that they can make it to work in time so that their store can beat another store by 12 flipping hours - and Thanksgiving will be relegated to just a fancy Sunday dinner with a turkey.

    And I am NOT going to support that.
  • THE One and Only 2012/11/14 17:53:46
  • Joanne1225 THE One... 2012/11/20 13:29:12
    Joanne1225
    You're absolutely right! However, the point here is that everyone's family is more important than shopping on Thanksgiving Day or before the former 6 a.m. opening of stores on Black Friday. Won't you support others that feel the same as you? We need to stand together in this world, not just for ourselves.
  • THE One... Joanne1225 2012/11/20 17:12:58
  • bernard THE One... 2012/11/20 19:18:54
    bernard
    +14
    Then I guess you won't help change anything in this world will you?
  • THE One... bernard 2012/11/20 19:48:51
  • kevracer 2012/11/14 17:31:33
    Undecided
    kevracer
    +1
    I'm too damn busy that day to worry about................ shopping

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2014/10/22 09:55:33

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