Thanksgiving is America’s holiday. So why shouldn’t all Americans have the right to stay home and celebrate the occasion with their families? Apparently, the competition for shopper dollars is so fierce that even Macy’s – for the very first time – will open its doors on Thanksgiving Day.
Since 1924, Macy’s has helped celebrate Thanksgiving Day with its annual parade in New York City. The department store has always remained closed for business while it puts on a display of bands, floats, celebrities and giant balloons. It’s an iconic parade with thousands of participants, a few million attendees, and millions of watchers on TV.
So why is Macy’s, along with J.C. Penney’s and Kohl’s, staying open for the first time this Thanksgiving Day? Quite simply – they say it’s what shoppers and employees want. Wal-mart, employer of the largest U.S. workforce, has stayed open on Thanksgiving for over 25 years.
“Another holiday bites the dust in favor of retailers,” said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail. “Our culture now is to shop, and to get the best deals. Thanksgiving as a day of rest was another culture, another time, not today.”
However, culture may not be the only reason as experts list three economic factors as to why retailers are changing their Thanksgiving priorities this year. First, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a mere 27 days – the holiday shopping season has not been this short since 2002. Second, consumer confidence is low after the government shutdown, stalling employment numbers, and the confusion over health care. Lastly, there’s just not enough money to go around in some places.
Times are tough for Bonifacio Aleman of Louisville, KY. A single dad with two teenaged kids, Aleman plans to cut his holiday shopping budget from $75 to $50.
“It has become so commercial, it makes me sick,” laments Aleman. “We get in this frenzy and go broke and not pay our bills to buy stuff for the holidays. Too many of us wind up in financial crisis because of it.”
Aleman is not the only one upset by holiday consumerism. “Save Thanksgiving” petitions have already been put online by detractors of the holiday work schedule. A group of Wal-mart empolyees known as “Our Walmart” plans to protest outside Wal-marts on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year.
There are those, of course, who are eagerly awaiting the deals ahead of them on Thanksgiving Day. Becoming known as “Black Friday Eve,” Thanksgiving Day shopping offers people another amusement apart from watching football or hanging around at home. For employees working on Black Friday, Thanksgiving Day bargains are a great opportunity.
Store manager of a Target in Louisville, William Johnson will be opening his store for the third time on Thanksgiving Day. In his experience, the lines will start at about 4 p.m. in anticipation of an 8 p.m. opening.
He says the Thanksgiving Day crowds are in better shape to shop than traditional Black Friday crowds who are tired and sleep-deprived. He also gets time to restock when the initial wave of shoppers dwindles between between midnight and the crack of dawn.
Thanksgiving Day is nearly upon us. How Americans choose to celebrate – to shop or not to shop – that is the question.
By Fatema Biviji