New York—While most Americans are lining up recipes for Thanksgiving dinner, most of the nation’s leading retailers are preparing to open as usual on what has long been considered a sacred family holiday.
Black Friday creep is in evidence even more than year than ever before with retailers such as Walmart, Macy’s, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Sears, Kmart, Stage Stores and others planning to be open on Thursday, most at hours earlier than ever.
There’s been some backlash for those retailers opening on Thanksgiving, mostly on social media sites where shoppers complain that workers are forced to show up to stores and cut their holiday festivities short. Retailers responded that “volunteers” are sought from their workforces to work on Thanksgiving and that opening on Thanksgiving is in response to shopper demands to hit the doorbusters rather than desserts. That doesn’t mean that most Americans agree.
Boycott Thanksgiving Day Shopping?
According to a HuffingtonPost/YouGov poll, a big majority of Americans think retailers should stay closed on Thanksgiving so workers can have the day off. The poll found 62% of Americans think businesses should close on Thanksgiving so workers can have the day off, while only 27% said that they think stores should feel free to stay open if there is demand for it.
Similarly, a UConn poll released Monday, which found that 49% disapprove and only 16% approve of retailers opening for business on Thanksgiving Day, while 34% said they are neutral.
The HuffPost/YouGov survey found only 13% of respondents said that they prefer retailers stay open on Thanksgiving, while 74% said they prefer businesses wait to open until Friday.
Despite any controversy, Thanksgiving Day is still a long ways off to rivaling Black Friday among holiday shoppers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) projected Black Friday will draw 97 million shoppers, about 69%, who plan to wait until Nov. 29 to shop.
Black Friday Still the Biggest Draw
The NRF found that about one-quarter plan to shop on Thursday and nearly 44% plan to shop Saturday and about 24% plan to shop Sunday.
Of course, retailers in several states, notably Rhode Island, Maine and Massachusetts are barred from opening on Thanksgiving due to “blue laws” that prohibit large supermarkets, big box stores and department stores from opening on Thanksgiving.
There have even been calls for legislation that would expand certain types of blue laws and ban retailers from opening on Thanksgiving.
Some retailers who choose to remain closed even have begun bragging that their employees get to enjoy Thanksgiving with their families ahead of the Black Friday weekend. Nordstrom even waits until Black Friday to tout Christmas. “We take our holidays one at a time,” the Seattle-based retailer stated.
Others are urging shoppers to stay home and observe their Thanksgiving.
“It’s pretty clear these retailers have no concern for their employees,” writes Susan Milligan, a columnist for U.S. News & World Report. The only way to stop the madness is to kill it off from the other end, and boycott any kind of shopping on Thanksgiving Day (exceptions made for running to the convenience store for an overpriced container of nutmeg, since allspice cannot be substituted for cinnamon and nutmeg, no matter how it sounds). That’s really the only message they’ll understand: If no one buys, they won’t try this offensive stunt again next year. Or maybe they’ll start on Wednesday night at midnight in 2014–selling, of course, gifts for Christmas 2015.”