Black Friday is just around the corner, and retailers such as Target, Toys “R” Us, Macy’s and others are racing to advertise deals and their extended hours. Many of the major retailers will open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving, which has sparked backlash from some employees. As Ashley Lutz reported:
Anthony Hardwick says he resents working at Target Corp. on Thanksgiving and has garnered more than 37,000 signatures on an online protest petition.
Target, Macy’s Inc., Gap Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Toys “R” Us Inc. and Best Buy Co. all plan to open at midnight or earlier on Thanksgiving in an attempt to goose sales that the National Retail Federation says may rise just 2.8 percent this holiday season, or about half as much as last year.
Hardwick, 29, who says he has been a Target parking attendant in Omaha for three years, began the petition two weeks ago on the Web site Change.org after learning that he and his coworkers would be required to start at 11 p.m. Nov. 24 for a 10-hour shift.
“I was so disappointed the day I found out about this because I did the math in my head and I was going to have to go to bed in the early afternoon on Thanksgiving to go in and work 10 hours,” Hardwick said in a telephone interview. “Everyone at work was resigned because the economy is bad and so our employer has us over a barrel.”
Hardwick said that he hasn’t heard from Target and that he fears losing his job for starting the protest and speaking to the media.
Target is the “unlucky” focus of a “new tradition” many retailers have started to spur excitement about the holiday season, said Marshal Cohen, an analyst at the Port Washington, New York-based NPD Group.
“This petition and sentiment will gain momentum,” Cohen said in a telephone interview. “The people who avoid the stores will be telling the retailer they will not shop there because they are breaking tradition.”
About 22 million shoppers looked for deals on Thanksgiving last year, Kathy Grannis, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based NRF, said in a telephone interview. That’s about a quarter of the consumers who shopped the next day, known as Black Friday, she said.
Many have decried the encroachment of the traditional Black Friday shopping into Thanksgiving because of its disruption of the family celebrations. As Susan Brooks Thistlewaite wrote:
How much is the American worker supposed to put up with? Ordinary Americans are already overworked and underpaid, but major retailers like Wal-Mart are pushing their “Black Friday” sales into Thanksgiving day, some starting at 10 p.m. on the holiday. These stores are invading one of the few holidays many workers get anymore.
Thanksgiving is about family and friends rejoicing together, relaxing after all the hard work of the year. But now workers in these stores are even losing that option; if stores continue the drive to start “Black Friday” on Thursday, some employees will have to literally get up from the Thanksgiving table and head in to work.
Our economy has become a treadmill for both workers and consumers alike, locked in an awful race of overwork and consumption. If the retailers don’t get into the “black,” that is, turn huge profits during the pre-Christmas sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving, then there is the threat that more workers will lose their jobs. Consumers, with their salaries flat or even cut in recent years, think they need the sales in order to afford gifts for the holidays. Workers are locked on to this same treadmill, having to service the consumption in order for the machinery of the economy to “improve.”