For years now, major retailers have been opening their doors earlier and earlier on Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving and the biggest shopping day of the year – offering their best deals on the most sought-after items in order to draw hordes of shoppers to their stores and get their cash registers ringing as the Christmas season begins.
But when is enough enough? Apparently never, because now those retailers, led by the behemoth Walmart, are opening their Black Friday sales Thursday. Yes, on Thanksgiving, a time that used to be set aside for families and friends to gather for good food, fellowship, some football on TV and, yes, to give thanks for the blessings they had received in their lives over the previous year.
There was a time when most everyone was off on Thanksgiving Day so they could spend the holiday with their loved ones. It was that way on most of the “major holidays” – Thanksgiving, Easter, New Year’s Day, July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day and, of course, Christmas. Then, at some point, retailers big and small decided it was more important to make a buck on those days than to allow their employees and customers a respite to relax and celebrate.
It was bad enough when people were enticed to act like a pack of wolves and descend on stores in the cold and dark of the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday, jockeying for position in front of stores so that they could burst inside at the appointed hour and sprint toward that “essential” video game system or big-screen TV at a cheaper price than usual.
People boasted about how many stores they “hit” and how much money they saved by crawling out of their beds at midnight and hauling themselves from big-box retailer to mall to outlet store. If that’s fulfilling to them, who are we to argue? But it’s another thing entirely when Thanksgiving Day is directly infringed upon for this all-American ritual of conspicuous consumption.
Walmart is opening its “Black Friday” specials this year at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Target, in keeping up with the Waltons, is following at 9 p.m. Sears stores, which were closed last Thanksgiving, are going to be open this year.
The retailers suggest their employees are fine with these changes, and there are no doubt many who need the money badly enough that they’ll abandon their families on Thanksgiving in order to go to work. But the question is whether the retailers should put their employees in this position in the first place, and we think the answer to that is a resounding “no.”
Aren’t there enough days on the calendar before Christmas that we could all stay in our homes, with those dearest to us, and enjoy a day – just one – without the intrusions of the outside world, particularly the grasping and grabbing for more, more and more?
Probably not. Because the stores, hungry for dollars, will open, and the shoppers, eager to save a buck and get their special prize, will show up like sheep to the slaughter.
It’s probably a lost cause, but we’d ask the folks who do the shopping to maybe consider doing business with companies that don’t pander so unabashedly to our baser instincts.
As for the retailers, we’d ask them what Army counsel Joseph Welch asked Sen. Joe McCarthy in 1954: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”