Backlash Builds Against Retailers Starting Black Friday on Thanksgiving

Over the years, retailers have begun opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday in order to make the most of the biggest shopping day of the year. This bottom line-driven phenomenon is not-so-lovingly known as “Black Friday creep,” conjuring images of something amorphous and sinister rolling slowly through the night to overtake Thanksgiving — and that’s not too far off, really.

Just ask Casey St. Clair, a Target employee whose recent petition to get the retail giant to stay closed on Thanksgiving night (rather than opening with Black Friday deals at 9:00 pm as scheduled) inspired a veritable revolt among retail employees and customers alike.

Her email via read, in part:

In the last week, over 230,000 people have signed my petition asking my employer, Target, to change its Black Friday shopping hours to let employees have Thanksgiving dinner with our families.

We have real momentum, and this Monday, I’ll be delivering my petition with over 230,000 signatures to Target Headquarters — click here to join us and add your name.

After I was on TV, my manager offered me Thanksgiving day off. But I declined. This isn’t about just me — it’s about respecting one of the few days retail workers have a year to spend time with loved ones.

While Target is certainly not alone in opening on Thanksgiving (Toys “R” Us, Walmart, Sears and KMart will be the first large retail chains to open with Black Friday sales at 8:00 pm), it has received the brunt of the public’s ire thanks to the petition.

St. Claire’s anger is not directed solely at her employer; she simply wants Target to set a good example by demonstrating respect for Thanksgiving and its employees’ right to spend it with their families.

“My anger is aimed at the loss of a day that, up until now, was considered important enough for only the most essential services to be open.”

Target posted a point-by-point counter-argument on its blog, calling itself a “family-focused retailer”, noting that quite a few employees have volunteered to work the Turkey Day shifts, and claiming that the company respects its employees’ family time but needs to open earlier in order to compete.

So if you’re one of those shoppers that has an intense desire to drag yourself out of a Turkey coma to buy that flat screen TV a few hours before everyone else, it looks like you’ll be able to do that; public protest campaigns have not persuaded Target and other retailers to limit Black Friday events to, you know, the day itself.

If, however, you share our antiquated mindset and would like to keep Thanksgiving separate from the Christmas rush, you can at least take comfort in knowing that some retailers, like Nordstrom, still stand by the old fashioned idea of celebrating one holiday at a time.