Remember the days when your mother went to bed early on Thanksgiving so she could be at the store by 5 or 6 a.m. on Black Friday? Remember when, as a retail employee, you could look forward to enjoying Thanksgiving with your family without having to gulp down your food and then go to work? Well, those days are long gone, and it appears that there is no end in site to the lengths retailers will go to squeeze out a few extra dollars of profits here and there.
Abha Bhattarai of the Washington Post makes a good point in pondering the biggest shopping day of the year should be renamed Black Thursday. Each year, the biggest chain stores in the nation start opening earlier and earlier. Last year, Target and a few others opened at 9 p.m. This year, Sears, Target, and Walmart have moved that time back yet another hour and are opening at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening.
When does the madness stop? Will stores greedy for your dollars force their employees to work the entire holiday eventually? Whatever happened to Walmart's focus on family? Opening at 8 p.m. on one of the biggest national holidays of the year is far from being family friendly. In fact, it's increasingly anti-family, because they're scheduling workers, many of whom are parents, to work long hours.
Sears Holdings, Inc. recently announced that it would open at 8 p.m. Its workers were not informed of this until very recently, when many of them had already had holiday plans lined up. Carlos Molina, of Cypress, California, started a petition on Change.org to end Sears opening on Thanksgiving. It might not do much good to stop the company from opening, but at the very least, the petition is bringing awareness to the growing problem.
One signer, who is a nurse, had this to say about the early hours:
"Its hard enough for me, as a nurse to work holidays away from my family, but at least that's for an important reasonÂ—the care of the sick. To make people work thanksgiving for retail profits? That's disgusting."
Another, whose wife works for Sears, said this:
"My wife works for Sears as a lead and they are forcing her to work two 12-hour shifts in a 30-hour period. She will have no time before or after the holiday to spend with family. This goes out to all employees in the same position."
An employee is required to work two 12-hour shifts within the span of a day and a half? People who work retail are being forced to choose working over spending time with family, and before you say, "Well, they should get out of retail if they don't like it," think about who rings up your sale, and who would ring you up if no one was there. Retail workers are the backbone of the industry, and without them, it would come to a complete standstill. Stores need stockers, they need cashiers, they need managers. They need security personnel. Even truck drivers, who sometimes have to miss holidays anyway, might have their schedules screwed up because of these earlier hours.
Employees aren't the only people affected by these earlier hours. If Sears, Walmart, and Target are opening at 8 p.m., when will people start lining up? At 5 p.m.? 4 p.m.? These stores know full well that serious shoppers intent on getting Black Friday bargains are willing to wait for several hours for a store to open. Is standing in line really more important than enjoying a relaxing day with turkey, family, and football?
As another commenter on the petition stated, enough is enough! Corporate profits should not supersede retail workers' right to spend time with their families.
Photo credit: Craig Dugas