The last couple of weeks or so have been plagued with stories about how such-and-such retailer or such-and-such restaurant will open at such-and-such time on Thanksgiving Day to get a jump on Black Friday. There has been a lot of debate as to whether this practice should be something consumers should support or something consumers should be wary of, especially since several battles by the employees of these places have spilled over into the consumer sector in recent months.
So, this entry into The Zephyr Lounge poses a question: Do you think these stores, restaurants, and other business enterprises should be open on Thanksgiving Day? But, before you answer the poll at the bottom (yes, there is a poll at the bottom), ponder the following information.
This Thanksgiving, there will be a lot of retailers opening their doors for business (some opening early) as a measure to get a jump on Black Friday sales. Among the businesses who will be in full-operation on Thanksgiving Day (the list is from International Business Times):
- K-Mart: Opening at 6 am.
- Big Lots: Opening at 7 am.
- Dollar General: Opening at 7 am.
- Rite-Aid: Most stores opening at 8 am.
- Gander Mountain: Opening at 8 am.
- Walgreens: Opening at 8 am.
- CVS Pharmacy: Opening at 9 am.
- Old Navy: Opening at 9 am, then closing at 4 pm. Reopening at 7 pm.
- Michael’s: Opening at 4 pm.
- Babies ‘R’ Us/Toys ‘R’ Us: Opening at 5 pm.
- Best Buy: Opening at 6 pm.
- Sports Authority: Opening at 6 pm.
- Wal*Mart: Opening at 6 pm.
- Abercrombie & Fitch: Opening at 8 pm.
- J.C. Penny: Opening at 8 pm.
- Kohl’s: Opening at 8 pm.
There are others, but the list is long… I’m pretty sure you all get the point.
Anyway, some of those retailers are waiting to open later in the day, since Thanksgiving dinner is typically served earlier in the afternoon hours (mine will actually be at 2 pm this year), but there are also a plethora of retailers opening earlier than their normal business hours to get a whole extra day of business in before the knives come out on Black Friday. Thanksgiving has traditionally been one of only 2 guaranteed days off over the course of the year (the other being Christmas). I consciously remember when being open on Thanksgiving was pointless, little more than a waste of payroll. I’m sure a lot of people remember those days.
While this would spark controversy any year, I think this year was a bad time to, as many reporters have said, “open earlier than ever!” We’ve spent the last few months with workers fighting for better wages and better hours at work, so to add insult to injury, these retailers have decided that to remain competitive during this year’s holiday rush, they have to be operational on Thanksgiving. This is especially sketchy for Wal*Mart, who is currently facing company-wide backlash because of employee wages and stark criticism over a canned food drive so Canton, Ohio employees could have a Thanksgiving dinner while they worked. Granted, some reports state that Wal*Mart will pay their employees more than their current wages for Thanksgiving hours, but the point is that they’re working on Thanksgiving at all, and it wasn’t optional.
Now, we’ll see what happens when a store manager tries to reason with his corporate superiors regarding Thanksgiving hours.
Tony Rohr was a manager of a Pizza Hut location in Indiana… before he was asked to resign. Rohr objected to Pizza Hut being open on Thanksgiving Day, and at a meeting with his superiors, he plead the case. He told his superiors that Pizza Hut could “be the company that stands up and says we care about our employees and they can have the day off.” In response, his superiors asked him to resign. Still angry and defiant, Tony had this to say in a letter to his direct supervisor:
“I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that my refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company […] I hope you realize that it’s the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible.
Tony Rohr begged his supervisors to take a stand against this idiotic notion that Black Friday actually begins on Thanksgiving. He urged them to stand with Costco, Nordstrom, BJ’s Wholesale, and others, in open defiance of the fact Black Friday hysteria has spread into a family-oriented holiday. Pizza Hut was not having any of that.
Despite the fact that Black Friday is a dying idea, Pizza Hut (and stores like it) still cling to the notion that Black Friday is important, and because of how important Black Friday is, they need to get a jump on the business before their competitors do. I mean, that’s legitimate retail competition, but there should be a line that isn’t crossed. I think Thanksgiving and Christmas are the lines that should not be crossed. Retail workers already endure a lot of bullshit, especially this time of year, and now employers are demanding (not asking, demanding) these employees sacrifice their Thanksgiving for profit-margins? This is absolutely despicable.
So, now for the poll.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, especially for those of you who have to sacrifice yours for your company’s profits.