By John Lee
As citizens of the world’s capital of consumerism, we Americans love paying a little for a lot. So it’s no surprise that the extreme discounts on Black Friday attract hordes of vicious, zombie-like customers who are willing to sleep on the sidewalk to be the first to snatch good deals. Once the clock hits 6:00 a.m. and the doors open, in come the floods of buyers, their wallets out and ready to go. Unfortunately, several people in recent years have been trampled, stabbed, shot, and killed in their journies to the treasured electronics aisle of their local store.
What’s horrifying is not only that people are willing to kick and push to get inside, but also that retailers are now opening their stores on Thanksgiving day.
Alarmingly, this trend began back in the early 2000s and took a step further in 2011 when Macy’s, Kohl’s, and several other stores opened at midnight. Black Friday, thus, was on the verge of spilling over onto Thanksgiving. Finally, Walmart and some other retailers pulled the trigger. They opened at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, giving rise to Gray Thursday.
This year, Best Buy, Walmart, Target, and many other department stores opened at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Their reason is that the economy needs a strong holiday retail season in order to lower unemployment.
What these retailers fail to realize is that they are causing the death of an American holiday. Instead of being at the dinner table, many families are heading to Macy’s to buy clothes and accessories they think they so desperately need. Instead of giving thanks for what they already have, many families now give thanks for what they bought at Target for 50% off. But perhaps buying unnecessary things is their idea of happy family time. At least they were able to do what they wanted to do.
The most anger-inducing part, however, is that many employees have to miss Thanksgiving dinner to work on a day they’re supposed to have off. Rather than having a good time with their family, these workers have to deal with rowdy stampedes of customers fighting over the last 36-inch flat screen TV.
Retailers want us to look on the bright side: at least they’ll get paid more, right? Yet in reality, though they claim they are significantly boosting the economy, giving workers a couple more hours of pay does not make enough of a difference to justify the sacrifice of Thanksgiving.
To voice their opposition, some employees have created the Save Thanksgiving campaign, asking for signatures to petition retail stores to stay closed on the holiday. Sadly, so far only Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine have banned retail stores from opening on Thanksgiving, protecting the sanctity of the holiday. It’s about time the rest of the United States follows in their footsteps.
We need quality time with families, and we need these holidays to maintain them. So, we must prove to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are more than just mindless consumers easily brainwashed by the notion of “more for less.”
So next Thanksgiving, stay home with your family. What difference will it make that stores are opening a half day earlier? You’ll still have to fight through the same crowd, with the same dangerous risk of injury, for the same products at the same prices. Nothing about that is worth giving thanks for.