November 19, 2013
More Stores Are Opening Thanksgiving Day, But Is It Ruining The Holiday?
Black Friday has traditionally been the busiest shopping day of the year, but this year retailers aren’t waiting until 5am Friday, in fact Kmart is opening at 6am – on Thanksgiving Day. The Huffington Post reported that there has been a wave of tweets and comments on social media calling out the retailer for the decision to open on the holiday.
Not to sound like a Scrooge, but I for one am not seeing the problem. As a freelance reporter, I work when I get the work, and some years that has meant spending weekends reworking a story. I’ve been on vacation and have had to seek out Wi-Fi, or worse, a smelly cybercafé to update a story, make edits or even in one case call a contact to confirm a fact. That’s my job and I’m not really complaining.
On the one hand I do understand that people want to spend time with their family on Thanksgiving, but I know that the gas station is open, people travel so someone is flying the plane and loading the bags, and there are many grocery stores that open Thanksgiving morning. Yes, I get those in retail face a massive wave of craziness and Thanksgiving has been the calm before the storm, but let’s face facts – online shopping is killing the physical stores.
There has been a push for Small Business Saturday, but as the URL gives away – this was started by American Express.
This year I’m seeing many small retailers calling for shoppers not to head to the store on Thanksgiving, and I could understand if the holiday season wasn’t so important to the bottom line. Kmart has been struggling for years, and if opening on Thanksgiving is going to help the company stay in business is it really that big of a problem?
Again, I get the part of about spending time on the holidays. But my mother worked in a hospital lab, so many years she worked Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day! Illness doesn’t take a holiday, so those who work in hospitals go in early and sometimes stay late.
As noted, so do those in the airline industry, as well as those who keep the trains, buses and even taxicabs running.
Many restaurants are open, and Thanksgiving is a big day for bars as well. Broadway in New York isn’t dark, and movie theaters are open. These places are open on Christmas Day too for the record.
Yes, I feel that are consumable society is probably going too far, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that Christmas – at least the part of exchanging gifts – was practically created by retailers as a way to help sell products.
There is also another fact missing in a lot of this reporting, which actually the Huffington Post hit upon. Thanksgiving is falling on November 28, which is the latest possible day it can fall on:
As the Huffington Post noted, “This year the rush to get shoppers into stores is especially urgent this year, as a calendar quirk means the holiday shopping season is losing six days, according to a recent report from Adobe Digital Marketing.”
Finally, I personally find it odd that Thanksgiving gets this special call out. Many retailers are actually open on other holidays including Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. These are days when people could also be at the beach, at a BBQ or just spending time relaxing with friends and family.
So perhaps it isn’t really the fact that the stores are open, but the commercialization of the holidays that is really the much bigger issue.
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