Why You Shouldn't Shop on Thanksgiving


I didn't expect it, but whether or not stores should be open on Thanksgiving is a pretty controversial topic. Some people firmly believe they should be closed and others simply do not. I fall into the first camp of people and I'm taking my little corner of the internet to share with you why I think you should stay home.

I've talked about this before, last year I shared a post with you about why I thought stores should not start their sales on Thanksgiving. It was called Black Friday, a rant

There is a Facebook group called Boycott Black Thursday (that started back in 2011) that has over 80,000 followers who don't want stores to open on Thanksgiving. I completely agree with them. Now, let's talk about why.

Reason One: It's Personal For Me. My cousin works for a large retailer. We have always planned Thanksgiving around her schedule so she could still eat with us and get enough sleep to make it through her next shift. This has never bothered me until this year. Why?

Well, regardless that her days off are Thursday and Friday and regardless that she works overnight so her Wednesday shift actually ends at 7 am on Thursday, she is required to work on Thanksgiving day. Note that key word there, required. No one is allowed to take off, not even months in advance. If you don't show up, you're fired, end of story. That sure screams holiday spirit, doesn't it?

To add further insult to injury, let's talk about her current shift and her required Thanksgiving day shift. She goes into work at 11 PM on Wednesday night and clocks out at 7 am on Thursday shift starts at 4 pm on Thursday afternoon. Let's pause there. 7 am to 4 pm is 8 hours. She has eight hours to go home, fall asleep, wake up and get back to work. Actually, that's not true. The sales at this store start around 6 pm so the parking lot will be full by 3. She needs to get there between 2 and 3 pm to finding parking. So now that's 6-7 hours after her previous shift ends. And the real cherry on this bullshit cake? She's only scheduled to work 7 hours that day and because of how their schedules and work weeks fall, she's not even getting paid overtime or holiday pay.

Let's break this down. It takes her 20 minutes to get home so if she manages to clock out right at 7 am, hightail it out the door and warm up her car within 5 minutes she'll be home around 7:30 am. Now we also have to assume she will instantly fall asleep although that is highly unlikely. Now let's say she sleeps until 1:30, that's 6 hours which is enough to function on. Now she has 30 minutes to shower and get ready and 20 minutes to get to work to make it there right before 2:30 and hopefully still find parking. Oh yeah, she hasn't ate anything since her lunch break somewhere in the early morning. That's okay though, hunger won't kill you in a day. And why does she have to do this? Because someone thinks that a $70 GPS or a $100 television or $25 sheets is the most important thing in the world and they absolutely without a doubt need to be at a large retailer on Thanksgiving day to get these items because if not, their Christmas will be ruined. RUINED I TELL YOU!
However, do you know the history of Black Friday? That brings me to my second reason.

Reason Two: The Sales Really Aren't That Great
Black Friday was named as such because it was typically the day that stores turned a profit and finally got their numbers from in the red to the black. If you don't know much about finances, this means until that day stores were typically operating at a loss and then on that day, they began making a profit. Kinda scary to think that retailers solely depend on the Christmas holiday season to make money. However, people buy gifts on Christmas so at least there is some logic. 

So Black Friday became the day for deals. Get all your Christmas shopping done on this great day, save some money and come home and put yourself into another turkey-coma with all of the leftovers. 

Somewhere along the line, Black Friday became less about good deals and more about insanity. Because the retailers knew the people would come, they offered extremely low prices on otherwise expensive items. It wasn't just your large or small appliances, it was everything. If you put a stack full of sweaters at 50% off next to where your check out lines start, retailers know that most customers are at least going to take a look at those sweaters. Because they need a sweater? No, because you put a sign on it that says 50% off and retailers know that people are drawn to a deal. How many times have you bought something you didn't really need simply because it was on sale?

Yeah, that's pretty much the entire purpose of Black Friday, to make the prices and ads so enticing that you absolutely need to purchase that 50% off sweater. It's only $9.99. What's $10? You spent that at Starbucks for two coffees. For this $10 you could get a sweater. Something that lasts longer than coffee. Oh and look it comes in various colors and prints. The green one is kinda cute with its bird print. Oh hey, the blue one has foxes on it and foxes are so in style right now. Wow, look at that purple one. It has kittens. Your friend Sarah is totally the crazy cat woman. For only $10 you could get this as a gag gift for her. She'd love it! 

See what I did there? Exactly what the retailers do to consumers. (Be honest, how many sweaters would you have in your arms?) We have become conditioned to believe that Black Friday is the best day to get a sale and the stores are only going to offer prices like that on that day only. 

But guess what. That is not true. Retailers basically jack up their prices all of the time for the mere fact that if they then slap a 'sale' or 'clearance' tag on it, people want to buy it. People want to feel like they are getting a good deal all of the time. How can a retailer compete with that? By constantly offering 'sales' which is really only reducing the cost of an item to what it should actually sell for. Novel concept, right?

Reason Three: There Are Other Days
Once retailers realized people would come out in droves on Black Friday to get a deal, they began offering different deals straight through the entire weekend so in case you couldn't shop on Friday, you could still get a good deal on an item on Saturday or Sunday. Then as Black Friday got a little more insane and the online shopping became more popular, strictly online retailers and retailers with an online presence realized they could create another day of sales. They dubbed it Cyber Monday and it became known as the day where you could score great deals on items online so you could shop in your pajamas and never brave the 'crazy' people out on the previous Friday.

Now, that wasn't enough. We still needed more. What about those small businesses struggling along to keep up with the lower prices and extended hours of the big box retailers? Small Business Tuesday was created and now you could go pick up some handmade soap from the local soap maker down the street for a discounted price.

Black Friday had now stretched into Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Five whole days of items at discounted prices. Money would be flying into the stores at an alarming rate!

But that still wasn't good enough. Retailers realized there was still a demographic of people they were excluding. The planners. The planners start holiday shopping months in advance and by Thanksgiving, they have their holiday stock pile of presents. Now, it would seem ludicrous to offer Black Friday deals in August, so retailers needed a new game plan and it came along by offering "Black Friday Pricing for the entire month of November!"

(You read that in the loud announcer voice too, right?)

Reason Four: Scrooge
To recap,
1. Black Friday Pricing is offered for the entire month of November.
2. Black Friday deals.
3. The Saturday and Sunday following Black Friday deals.
4. Cyber Monday.
5. Small Business Tuesday.

Depending on how the calendar year falls, Cyber Monday and Small Business Tuesday could actually be in December and I am not even going to cover with you the deals that are offered in December only to further drive people into the stores to spend money.

For the sake of simple math, let's assume that Thanksgiving falls on November 25th.

Retailers now offer Black Friday Pricing from November 1 - 24th, actual Black Friday deals on November 26th, weekend deals the 27th and 28th, Cyber Monday deals the 29th and Small Business Tuesday deals on the 30th. That is TWENTY NINE days of sales.

Twenty Nine days for retailers to go from operating in the red to operating in the black when they used to just have one big day. Twenty Nine days for people to collect paychecks and go shopping. Twenty Nine days of people to sit in their pajamas and order items online.

Do you know what mental image I get when I picture these retailers deciding that those TWENTY NINE days just aren't good enough? Scrooge (the duck form) throwing around paper money and swimming in it. It's pure greed at that point. If twenty nine days of sales isn't going to take your company from operating at a loss to being profitable, nothing is. And they are just opening on Thanksgiving day because they can.

Which leads me to Reason Four: Demand. 
Maybe you remember when stores weren't open at all on Sundays. If you needed bread or milk or gas in your car, you were SOL until Monday morning if you didn't have the foresight to take care of that by Saturday evening.

Obviously, we survived as a country through retailers not being open on Sundays or we wouldn't be here right now.

But there was a demand. People wanted to shop on Sunday. The mother who ran out of butter for Sundays dinner wanted to be able to pop into the local Mom & Pop grocery store and pick up her stick of butter. The family traveling across country for the new job needed to drive straight through Sunday to arrive in their new town on Monday needed to be able to stop and fill up their gas tank on Sunday. So limited working hours on Sunday were introduced.

It's truly this simple. Had there not been a demand to shop on Thanksgiving day, stores would not have opened. It would not be mandatory for their employees to work. Retailers still had compassion. Still remembered that their employees are not their indentured servants. That they still have lives, families, interests outside of work.

Reason Five: It Should Be A Choice 
Now we live in a world where we expect stores to be open around the clock because if you need a new video game at 3 am you better damn well be able to get it. It's sad, really. That we live in a society of Give It To Me Right Now. Patience is a lost art. Instant gratification fuels our daily lives and it has taken away some of the most simple things we used to enjoy.

By no means do I claim that everyone likes their family, wants to spend the holiday with them, or even has a family to spend the holidays with. Some people really don't mind and I APPRECIATE THEM. I appreciate every doctor, nurse, emergency personnel, taxi driver, gas station attendant, etc. who chooses to work that day so someone else doesn't have to. Personal sacrifice is something we don't see much of these days so it means so much more when you actually do encounter it.

But that's not the case. There is no choice. You work on Thanksgiving or any other day that retailers no longer deem a holiday or you get fired. And that's just sad. Sad that money is more important than people. Sad that retailers used to be closed on ALL national holidays and now that no longer exists.

In Closing, all I can say is that I hope this has at least made you think.

If you'd like to join the Boycott Black Thursday group, please click that link to their Facebook page.

If you would like to boycott all retailers who are open on Thanksgiving, here is a list of the current ones, take from the Boycott Black Thursday page.

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