Thanksgiving Day has traditionally been a day of respite, giving workers a break to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends, assured of the closure of their workplaces. However, many major retailers have drawn the line on the creeping trend of extending Black Friday into Thanksgiving Day, declaring their commitment to family values and respect for employees need to celebrate with loved ones without risking their paycheck. Some people are skeptical of the businesses’ motivations, voicing suspicions that the move is just a marketing ploy in the court of public opinion as the stores vie for the most family friendly store label or for who will drive more business to their stores with a reputation as the most respectful and considerate of their employees.
Opening on Turkey Day turns a blind eye to the cost to employees who must give up their family time to staff the stores. Many retailers defend their recent trend of opening on Thanksgiving by claiming that workers chose to work that day and want to do so for the extra money. What they ignore, according to the Marquette Wire, is the fact that many of those who “volunteer” are the lowest paid employees who only agree to work Thanksgiving because they need the extra money and cannot afford the unpaid break.
The altruistic act of closing on the holiday, in spite of potential lost sales, some theorize, is that businesses are courting the good opinion of the families that are in their target audience. By acknowledging and rewarding their employees’ hard work the rest of the year with a paid Thanksgiving break, as was taken for granted until recent years, employers fuel employee satisfaction.
By giving them time to celebrate with family they are not forced to choose between much-needed money and quality relational time to relax and recharge. Workers can relax and enjoy the holiday with family and friends without worrying about how the bills will be paid this month. The down time could even play to the psychological and physical need for rest thereby improving employee performance when work resumes.
The monetary profit touted by retailers that stay open in defense of their practices may be a myth, according to Time Magazine. Although the Accenture consulting firm reports survey results that say the percentage of Americans who plan to shop on Thanksgiving is up this year, many still avoid the holiday shopping frenzy in stores, preferring to focus on family time. A RichRelevance study revealed that as many as 60 percent of Americans express distaste for stores that open on Thanksgiving.
The fact of the matter is that business analysts have looked at the sales data for many major retailers over the entire holiday season and concluded that the early sales and Thanksgiving opens only moves the profit to a different day. It does not actually improve overall holiday sales. Consumer research group Deloitte found that the large majority of holiday shopping occurs after Thanksgiving. Therefore, the holiday closures are actually good way for employers to give back a little Thanksgiving cheer, break the cycle of encroaching commercialism and boost worker morale and productivity.
Opinion by Tamara Christine Van Hooser
Business News and Video
Photo Courtesy of Ken Hawkins – Flickr License