As a former electronics specialist and manager at a major chain store (I won’t mention which one it was, but there are usually a lot of people dressed in red inside), I don’t think the average member of the general public knows the pain of working on Thanksgiving Day now that Black Friday simply isn’t good enough for some stores.
It’s not just being apart from your family for the holiday. That much you can get used to, sadly. Putting in 12-hour shifts running from one place to another after eating an early turkey dinner — well, there’s not enough coffee in the world that can make that feel anything like a slog through cement.
Then there are the atavistic shopping fanatics that Black Friday (and its new relative, Black Thursday) dredges up. The moment those sliding doors open, retail workers get to see the tenuous links that keep the social contract together get torn apart in dramatic fashion over $45 Blu-Ray players.
My first Thanksgiving working at Tar– erm, the nameless store which once employed me, I remember seeing a 50-something woman bend over to pick up a toy off of the bottom shelf. Another woman, simultaneously needing something off the top shelf, decided she couldn’t wait for help to get the item, lest the other shoppers denude the shelves before she could get to it.
So, she used the middle-aged woman’s back as a sort of ersatz step-stool, apparently caring not if the poor shopper was injured or not. She wasn’t, but a good half hour of prayer and a strong glass of eggnog upon my arrival home was necessary to avert a deep plunge into nihilist despair.
Not all of this will be solved by putting the brakes on the unfortunate trend of opening for Black Friday during the waning hours of Turkey Day, mind you. However, it’s a start — and at least 35 major retailers are willing to make it, quite a few more than when the trend toward opening on the holiday began reversing itself a few years ago.
“Thanksgiving is still a few weeks away, and while many stores will have big sales that start on the holiday, some retailers have decided to close their doors this year,” WFLA-TV reported Thursday.
Here are the stores WFLA said would be closed or are predicted to be closed on Turkey Day:
- American Girl
- Babies “R” Us
- Barnes & Noble
- Bed Bath & Beyond
- Crate and Barrel
- Guitar Center
- Hobby Lobby
- Home Depot
- Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores
- Jos. A. Bank
- Mattress Firm
- Neiman Marcus
- Nordstrom Rack
- Office Depot and OfficeMax
- Pier 1 Imports
- Sam’s Club
- T.J. Maxx
“So far, there have been no major changes in the stores remaining closed compared to the past year or two,” BestBlackFriday.com reported.
“Some stores have changed course, however, over the past several years. Stein Mart, for example, is closed this year (and remained closed in 2017 and 2018 as well), but opened during the evening of Thanksgiving for a few years prior to that.”
However, The New York Times began reporting on the reversal back in 2016.
“After spending several years rushing to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day, retailers have been hit with a dose of reality: It may not be worth it,” the newspaper reported.
“Office Depot, Mall of America and the electronics store HHGregg have all announced they will be closed on Thanksgiving. Other retailers like Sears will open fewer stores, and of the locations that do open, many will have shorter hours.
“The companies give different reasons for the shift — employees should be able to spend time with family, for one — but the overriding message is clear: For some retailers, opening on Thanksgiving is too much of a headache.”
The Times said that the convenience it afforded customers wasn’t worth the blowback stores received for taking workers away from their families — and Thanksgiving sales had been declining in the years leading up to 2016, anyhow.
However, the trend doesn’t apply to all stores.
“Opening on Thanksgiving makes sense for these and other retailers that rely heavily on promotions. Stores like Walmart and Target, which will both open this year, still offer the kinds of door-buster sales on televisions and electronics that rally customers to line up early, even in the cold,” the newspaper reported.
I guess I’d still be working on Thanksgiving Day, then. I mean, if I worked at one of those stores. Allegedly. I can neither confirm nor deny.
Look, people. You don’t need to go shopping on Thanksgiving. No, Turkey Day isn’t a religious holiday on the order of Christmas and Easter, but it’s still a family day — one where many of us often see relatives we don’t normally get to see.
There’s no reason for us to be working 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. just so you can get a television you could perfectly well wait until tomorrow to get. Please — don’t be part of the problem. Even if you’re not using another human being as a step-stool, you should be home, too.
And to all of the stores that refuse to be part of the problem, we salute you, as well. One hopes more retailers join your numbers. Capitalism is great, but when it comes at the expense of family togetherness, there’s a real problem. Let’s hope this is the beginning of a trend.
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