It’s that time of year again, and Black Friday promises to be bigger than ever in 2013. Many stores, including such retail giants as Target, ToysRUs,Kohl’s Best Buy, and Kmart will be opening their doors earlier than ever this year and including many hours of shopping on Thanksgiving Day. A number of these retailers are also expanding their online presence during what has become more of a Black Friday Season than just a single day of shopping. Target will be featuring online deals as much as 5 days prior to Black Friday. Retailers are extending the Black Friday bargains offered in stores on the day itself to the internet as well. ToysRUs has pledged that this year nearly all of their Black Friday deals available in stores will also be on available to internet shoppers just past midnight on Thanksgiving Day. These retailers are responding to multiple sources which indicate that online shopping is consistently on the rise. While all this may sound like paradise for the bargain hunters among us, not everyone approves of Black Friday’s “Thanksgiving Creep” into the Thanksgiving holiday itself.
The primary basis for this criticism has been the argument that greedy retailers are preventing low level employees from spending the Thanksgiving holiday with their families. Perhaps most publicized has been the heavily negative reaction to Kmart in recent weeks after the announcement that their stores would be open for forty-one hours straight beginning in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day and concluding with late night hours on Black Friday. Critics of Kmart are pledging that they will no longer shop at the store on any day, including on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.
In addition, efforts such as the #savethanksgiving pledge have been circulating social media and the internet evoking strong emotions from those who believe that Thanksgiving should remain a day spent with friends and family. The #savethanksgiving campaign requests specifically that people pledge not to shop on Thanksgiving because “if I’m shopping someone else is working and NOT spending time with their family.” Other efforts such as declaring Black Friday “Buy Nothing Day” continue year after year with similar rationales.
While often little is heard from employees themselves on the topic, a California Target employee, Casey St. Clair, has started a petition on change.org requesting that Target not open it’s doors on Thanksgiving Day. She explains that up until recent years, Thanksgiving Day was one of the few days of the year when retail employees were afforded the opportunity to be certain of a day off to spend with friends and family. Her petition has over 300,000 signatures so far with a set goal of 500,000. Only time will tell if her effort or those of others to have Black Friday put back in it’s place will be successful but the bottom line is likely this: as long as there is demand, the retailers will be happy to provide the supply.
By Michele Wessel