Workers, families fighting Thanksgiving Day shopping
BY FRANCINE KNOWLES email@example.com November 14, 2012 10:30AM
Shoppers descend upon the new Elgin Walmart Thanksgiving night. | Mike Danahey~Sun-TImes Media
Updated: December 19, 2012 11:46AM
As more stores have decided to open on Thanksgiving Day, a backlash is building among retail workers, their families and others who say they’re taking employees away from their families.
Tens of thousands of people have signed more than 60 online petitions calling on Sears, Target and other retailers to “Save Thanksgiving” and stop the “Black Friday” creep, according to Change.org, an online petition platform. One petition launched on the site by Target employee Casey St. Clair has gathered more than 195,000 signatures so far. It calls on Target to “take the high road and save Thanksgiving.”
The petition signatures are on track to surpass last year’s level, according to the site.
“What we’re seeing is regardless of what these retailers choose to do about their opening times . . . employees and families across the country want Black Friday to stay Black Friday, not Black Thursday,” said Change.org spokeswoman Charlotte Hill. “We’re hearing on Change.org that people want Thanksgiving to be about spending time with family, not spending cash on the latest toys or gadgets.”
Hoffman Estates-based Sears recently announced its stores will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving and will stay open overnight until 10 p.m. Friday. Last year, Sears stores were closed on Thanksgiving.
In addition, Target Corp. announced plans to open its doors at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, three hours earlier than a year ago, Wal-Mart will begin its holiday sale at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving, two hours earlier than last year, and Toys R Us will open at 8 p.m., an hour earlier, to kick off the holiday shopping season.
Even luxury retailer Lord & Taylor, which was closed on Thanksgiving last year, has said its Fifth Avenue flagship store in New York will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
And Gander Mountain announced Thursday that all its stores will be open from 9 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving day, and again at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.
Morningstar Inc. retail analyst Paul Swinand doesn’t expect retailers to be fazed by the petitions.
“I think they’re more concerned about their customers and what they want,” he said. “I think they care about whether customers want to go shop on Thanksgiving. That’s the one thing that really matters. If you don’t want it, and I want it, the store has to make a cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth it to be open.”
But he questions the cost vs. the benefits, noting it can look “like you got incremental sales from being open that evening, but the question is would you have just made that sale the next week anyway.”
But, he said, retailers should be concerned about workers’ attitudes. He singled out as an example Lord & Taylor.
“Their employees are excellent salespeople that really work with the customers to design their wardrobes and give great service, and if they had a little burr in their underwear” because they have to work Thanksgiving, “that might ruin some of the sales in the future . . . If you have loyal customers and differentiated products, you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, you’re spending money to get the sales you would have gotten anyway later in the week.”