Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, but it has been culturally adopted into our national narrative as a day of reflection, gratitude, and time spent with family. Retail stores like Target, K-Mart, Walmart, and more have used this as a rationale to increase sales and stay competitive by opening at times ranging from 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning (K-Mart) to 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening (Target) and having employees come in to work. As a result, multiple petitions have appeared on Change.org with employees like internet sensation Justin Mills in Selah, Washington, calling for Target to close on Thanksgiving and not open until Black Friday. This particular one has almost 88,000 signatures of support.
Maximum sales seems to be the apparent and driving force for many retailers, like Target, who generally make it their mission to present an image of one that cares and maintains healthy work environments, pay, and hours for their employees. Yet, Burt Flickinger, a retail consultant with Strategic Resource Group, was quoted saying that the only real increase is in cost of operations not profits, as pushing back sales hours into the Thanksgiving holiday only “[spreads] the sales over more hours between Thanksgiving day and Black Friday.”
Many corporations that have decided to keep their doors closed on Thanksgiving day have used that as an asset for developing of their image, aligning with many of their customers’ and employees’ own values. Companies like Costco have put out statements saying: “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that.” To an extent, this is corporate America seizing the chance to maintain a level of trust between them and their consumers. Yet, we, at the Foghorn, find it a very smart business move that in turn reflects on the ethics of the company and is mutually and directly beneficial to their employees.
With an undoubtedly busy season ahead for many retail employees, we think that a day of peace and thanks for them, alongside their families would be welcome. The numbers show that sticking to the traditional hours of Black Friday openings would do no harm to sales and profits as many companies are concerned about. According to the National Retail Federation, in the age of internet sales, almost 30 percent of consumers say that they shop online on Thanksgiving Day and would rather continue to do so than join the few 4.9 percent that might opt to leave their homes and shop on Thanksgiving.
So do your grocery shopping ahead of time, watch the San Francisco 49ers play the Seahawks at 5.30 p.m. at home with your family and show retailers that you do not care for the usual consumerism we feed into on a day for family like Thanksgiving. Maybe next year, Target will actually take note and let Justin Mills stay at home with his family instead of roaming the empty aisles dreaming of a missed turkey dinner.