Friday, October 18, 2013

Thanks for Nothing

Why stop at 8:00 p.m.? Why not just be open the whole damn day?

Pardon me, that was a strange lede, I know.

I'm talking about Thanksgiving Day, by the way.

Macy's announced last week that it was opening its doors at 8:00 on Thanksgiving evening, as the ridiculous "Black Friday" monster gets bigger every year. Dawn openings weren't cutting it, I guess, nor was a midnight blowout. Now, we give you shopping while the turkey hasn't even cooled off.

JCPenney followed suit on Thursday, announcing its own 8pm opening on Thanksgiving.

“Obviously, we were one of the last to open (last year),” said Tony Bartlett, Penney’s executive vice president of stores, referring to last year's (gasp!) 6am opening the day after Turkey Day. But, this year, “We’re all in," Bartlett said.

Well, his employees are all in. OK, they're in---how about that?

I'm sure the cashiers and stock folks are thrilled with the prospects of moving through their holiday meal briskly, so they can shower up, kiss the family goodbye, and trudge out into the evening and drive to work.

Don't come at me with, "Well, it's probably going to be voluntary" or "They're in retail" or "They get holiday pay."

First, with the crowds that are (sadly) expected, don't think that working on Thanksgiving night will be in any way, "voluntary." I have worked in retail, for a big furniture store, and there was nothing voluntary about it, if we ran sales on holidays, like July 4th, etc. You were expected to be there, period.

As for "They're in retail," this is true. So that means they give up all rights to enjoy a holiday at home? Yes, signing up for retail work leaves one open for this kind of nonsense, but it's because of one word: greed.

I seriously doubt that this country will be turned upside down if we stuck to early morning openings the day after Thanksgiving. Seems we got along just fine for decades without this "Black Friday" jazz. But when greed lurches, the corporate fat cats see more chances to squeeze pennies from the consumer, and the executives do a pretty good job of brainwashing us to think that Black Friday madness is what we want and crave.

And as for "They get holiday pay," of course they do, though I'm sure the companies would be thrilled to work around that, too. Getting holiday pay for working a holiday is what is expected; it's not a perk. Sure, some folks could use the time-and-a-half or double time they're getting paid for an 8-hour shift. But how many more would rather decline the pay and stay home with family and friends?


Yay! We get to see things like this played out on Thanksgiving night, now!


The thing that is also disturbing is that you just know it's not going to stop here. First, more companies, I'm sure, will follow Macy's and Penney's lead. Second, the opening times are sure to be even earlier.

Opening at dawn wasn't good enough. Opening at 4am wasn't good enough. Midnight openings didn't cut it. So why should we think Macy's et al will be satisfied with 8pm?

Count on it---Thanksgiving Day will soon be the day that big box retailers fling their doors open, and as early as that morning. They won't be content to wait until 8pm.

Thankfully, the online comments I read in the wake of the Macy's announcement were overwhelmingly against the notion of an 8pm opening on Thanksgiving. The theme was consistent: enough! Some vowed not to shop at Macy's because of it.

That's great, but there are plenty of zealots out there who will rush through their dinners, grab their purses and wallets and set out to get a great deal on a big screen TV or the like.

And the retailers will tell us that this is what we want.

I am waiting for a big box retailer to take a stand, and stick to a day-after-Thanksgiving opening. I would love it if they did it front and center, instead of hoping no one will notice. Would one be even so bold as to launch a campaign that speaks directly to why they're not participating in this Thanksgiving night craziness?

Besides, how can it be Black Friday if the stores are opening on Thursday?

Maybe it really should be renamed Black Thursday, and we should do away with the words Thanksgiving Day, once and for all. The stores can hang black crepe. It will be neat.

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