After being flogged on many fronts, Walmart is finally showing some compassion and mercy to their employees for the holiday season. Most specifically, those Walmart associates (what they have named their employees that are paid based on an hourly wage) will present employees with the option of working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in lieu of flat out requiring it and threatening the jobs of the employees that decline. Walmart associates that choose to work on these two days will be given holiday pay, meaning a wage higher than their normal holiday wage comparable to an overtime pay scale. They will also be provided with hot meals during their breaks and a 25 percent product discount that can applied to purchases throughout the duration of December.
Walmart has been under scrutiny for low wages and for having employees work these holidays for several years. It is a little saddening that it took so much for them to extend these courtesies to their employees who assumedly would prefer to be with their families on these particular days instead of working a repetitive job as a Walmart asscociate, but the fact that it is happening now is certainly better than not happening at all.
Walmart, along with several other retailers, saw a significant drop in sales resulting from physical purchases made within the store during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday weekend last year due to online shopping. Online shopping grows exponentially year by year due to low prices, convenience, and in the case of Black Friday: personal safety. 2012 marked the first year that online shopping take such a large chunk out of the in store purchases, that retailers such as Walmart elected to make a change.
Some select offers will still be offered through Walmart’s website, but the vast majority of Black Friday deals will require a physical presence within a retail outlet. It looks as if the relief from the holiday rush that many shoppers relished in last year from the comfort of sitting behind their keyboard favored consumers far too much over retailers and a retailer as large as Walmart simply cannot allow that to happen. Couple that with the fact that Walmart as a business is not doing extremely well in their recent quarterly earnings reports due to a bribery scandal, among other factors. So it isn’t hard to believe that they want people out of their houses and most likely rioting in their stores over Thanksgiving weekend.
What may be hard to believe though, is other large companies such as Macy’s want their employees to work on the Thanksgiving holiday for the first time this year. Black Friday has always been the absolute biggest holiday for department stores within malls and certainly this year will be no exception. However, in years past employees were still able to spend the holiday of Thanksgiving itself with their family and did not have to worry about job security while slicing the turkey. It appears that Walmart, and the tremendous amount of online shopping that occurred last year are changing the landscape of holiday shopping, and under any form of analysis only the executives will probably benefit.
Editorial by Michael Blain