Black Friday…now Beige Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?

Black Friday, the Friday following Thanksgiving in the U.S., has unofficially developed into a national holiday.  It’s the start of holiday shopping season.

Black-Friday-Line

An innocent day of savings has evolved into a marathon full of high-intensity bargain hunting – a period full of midnight store openings, shoppers fighting over the best deals, and compulsive overspending.  For stores, the shopping holiday craze results in a juicy revenue injection to their bottom line.   As a result, big chain retailers such as Walmart couldn’t help themselves from “extending Black Friday,” spreading sales over a five-day period from the last week of November into early December.

One of the saddest consequences of the Black Friday evolution is the realization that a focus has shifted from the main holiday of this time of the year: Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is intended to be spent with family and to commemorate an annual harvest festival dating back in 1621 when it was first celebrated by the Pilgrims.  Now it’s a reminder on the calendar to line the stores: it’s almost opening hour.

black fri

Alas, Americans now overlook the traditional, family-filled turkey feast and have taken to the streets to line outside store fronts, hours before opening to ensure they get the best deals.  The once innocent day of savings has been taken to the extreme.  Store employees are taken from family occasions and put behind the register the keep up with the demand of the shopping marathon.

However, recent news has spread about the uncertain future of Black Friday, and the need to question what has become of the day.

In an attempt to combat what is now becoming an unhealthy obsession across the country, outdoor retailer, Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) is choosing to shut all 143 of its store doors, on the Friday after Thanksgiving – a good move for company morale.  Cited in a post on CNBC, REI’s chief executive and president, Jerry Stritzke, maintains the company’s mission saying, “While the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”   Some stores decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day in order to preserve the holiday for their workers and avoid siphoning off Black Friday customers.

Extended family having thanksgiving dinner.

After all, is it right for stores to make employees work on Thanksgiving Day?  Well, Macy’s thinks so.  Macy’s announced recently that its doors will be open this holiday season, starting at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening.  Sales will continue through Black Friday and the weekend in over 700 of its retail stores nationwide.  But will this decision have the bottom line effect they’re looking for?  In fact, retail stores that were open last year in hopes of boosting their holiday sales didn’t increase overall holiday purchases.  Nonetheless it’ll come down to whether we, the shoppers, support the discretionary spending craze this coming year or realize its foolishness.

Fortunately, we’re heading in the right direction.  Strong consumer and legislative backlash against the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving could be curbing the trend of stores opening on the holidays.  Polls from last year showed that half of Americans voted against opening on Thanksgiving Day.  Retail employees and some customers have started pushing back against stores’ new hours, asking the companies to “save Thanksgiving.”  It’s a slow progression, but thankfully not all hope is lost.  I’m optimistic that we’ll continue to work towards preserving the Thanksgiving holiday for family, friends, turkey and a deep appreciation for all of the above.

GoodMythicalMorning-TheFirstThanksgiving616

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6 thoughts on “Black Friday…now Beige Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?

  1. Great argument – I guess this all depends on how one views economic/political system in the country. Should the government be able to intervene in how a private business functions on the holidays? What if the store has a sufficient amount of employees that volunteer to work on said holiday? You mention legislative backlash against stores opening on Thanksgiving; is there anything as of now in the books banning this practice or is it yet to be proposed / still in committee? After all, the federal government doesn’t even require a holiday pay. Perhaps this is a battle for the states to decide. In my opinion, a business should have the option to be open on Thanksgiving, but it should be entirely dependent on a voluntary basis from the employees. In other words, no employee should be forced/coerced (either officially or unofficially) to work on a holiday.

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  2. Besides the government getting involved in how private companies run their business, there is also hope to save thanksgiving because we also have “Cyber Monday”; Cyber Monday is relevant in the sense that it replaces the stress of consumers to wait in line while trying to get the deals, but it also strives to replace the position that black Friday currently has. It would be interesting to see what the future of Black Friday is in comparison to Cyber Monday. My take is that Cyber Monday will eventually overtake Black Friday as time progresses for convenience, the future leads to the usage of technology, and to save this big holiday of the year.

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  3. I think the idea of marketing the day after Thanksgiving (the day many are supposed to express gratitude) as a day for excessive shopping was always unusual, however closing stores on the day after for a holiday not everyone in America celebrates is also odd to me. In Dubai, there are two major holidays where stores are closed in morning but at around 3 pm the malls, restaurants, and theme parks are open again. On the one occasion I went to a store there, I noticed all the workers there were foreign workers and when I asked non muslim too. They said that they like working on those days because they technically weren’t losing money when they were given their respective holidays off (during Christmas you pretty much exclusively see Muslims and Arabs working). So in a country as diverse as America would it be fair to shut down all stores for certain holidays and not others?

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  4. I absolutely agree with all this is said in this post. When I read last week that REI was opting out of of Black Friday shopping by closing all of their stores, I was so relieved that finally someone is taking a stand against the nonsense of Black Friday. The holiday season is meant to be spent with friends and family as a break from our busy work-centered lives and to take a step back and remember all that we have to be thankful for. It is sickening to see the shift that our culture has caused, taking something as sacred as Thanksgiving and turning it into a discounted shopping rampage. And even worse, to have stores open on actual Thanksgiving?! That is simply absurd. Our obsession with material goods as a society has gotten completely out of hand, and I think it is so admirable for major retail stores to stand up against it despite the loss of sales. The days of the year that workers have off is out of most employee’s control, and it is these companies’ leaders’ duty to respect the time that should be allocated to family and at least shut down stores on Thanksgiving. I would find it very interesting to look into the sales of major retail stores on holidays like Thanksgiving, and see if the numbers justify keeping employees working on these days. I suspect it is more due to greed than the actual profit for the companies, as most people do not shop on Holidays besides grocery stores. Regarding the comment above, I absolutely agree that working on national holidays should be at the employee’s discretion. If incentives such as increased hourly pay are put in place, I think that there would be enough workers that would voluntarily work because they feel that it is worth it, not that they are being taken advantage of, and that is key. If an employee is willing to work on a holiday because maybe they don’t have family in town or they really need the pay, then it justifies the situation. Forcing workers to work on such special family time, however, is in my opinion taking full advantage of employees’ time.

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  5. a. I agree with your overall message about days which have transformed to be days intended to be spent with family, should indeed be spent with family. However, I must say, if you are going to argue that the day should be appreciated because of the tradition and history it celebrates, then you should be more familiar with the true history. Thanksgiving is regarded as a day full of loving cultural connections. This is far from the truth, the day is romanticized by popular culture. The indigenous people-the Wampanoag tribe-lost 90% of its people to smallpox. They allegedly helped the Pilgrims survive the first year, yet the Pilgrims did not return the favor in fact they supposedly robbed the natives’ graves and grain supply. The association between the natives and Pilgrims was out of mutual dependence. The Europeans had weapons which could defend the Wampanoag from other attacking natives. While most Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, native people remember what they call the “National Day of Mourning”. When George Washington established Thanksgiving his sentiment of thanks was towards to remaining lives of the Pequot natives who had been annihilated by the colonists. In fact the original Thanksgiving Day, was referring to what the colonists celebrated for their successful slaughtering of the Pequot Tribe-not the association between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag. The colonists attacked the Pequot tribe during their green corn festival. They killed 700 natives, and thus their day of thanksgiving was in gratitude for Gods destruction of the defenseless Pequot village. The “days of thanksgiving” refer to the ensuing massacres they conducted on the Pequot tribe. The thanksgiving we like to refer to in popular culture – the unarranged feast between the Pilgrims and Wampanoug- supposedly did not have turkey on the table. In fact, most entrees and sides in our typical thanksgiving meal has little to no resemblance of the foods present at that historic feast. In summary, rather than arguing thanksgiving should be celebrated because of the history that is represented, the day should be considered important exclusively because of the great value family should have in a person’s life.

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  6. I think that this will get interesting as Cyber Monday’s popularity increases. I don’t know which is more popular currently between the two, but I’m sure Cyber Monday’s popularity will outshine Black Friday’s soon, as shoppers turn to the practicality and quickness of the Internet as in-person shopping becomes more cumbersome. I think employees should have the option to take the day off, but I don’t know how much the government has authority to intervene in this matter. After all, if a private business wants to increase sales by hosting Black Friday deals, the government can’t really interfere in that decision. Plus, Thanksgiving as a national holiday has a shifty past anyway, so I don’t know how this will manifest.

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