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Black Friday 2011 deal mania threatening Thanksgiving, critics say; protests planned

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just days away, and the focus for major retailers like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us on providing the longest shopping times has upset some who see the shopping days encroaching on Thanksgiving. As Ylan Q. Mui reported:

Thanksgiving is under assault.

Stores that once closed their doors in deference to the holiday are now touting Turkey Day deals starting as early as 9 p.m. Workers who should be on vacation are answering office e-mails on their smartphones. And those who plan on celebrating with a traditional dinner are finding that the cost of a bird is near its 30-year high, according to government data.

“I think we have a sort of Norman Rockwell view of Thanksgiving,” said Kit Yarrow, head of the psychology department at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. “It’s not really linked to reality for most Americans.”

Thanksgiving has long been in danger of getting subsumed by Christmas. Every year, Americans bemoan the encroachment of pine trees and presents on pilgrims and pumpkin pie, a phenomenon the retail industry calls “Christmas creep.” But for many, a line seems to have been crossed.

“RESPECT THE BIRD!!!” Doug Matthews, 49, an avid amateur chef from New Jersey, proclaimed in a blog post.

Matthews said he penned the diatribe last year when he spied Christmas candy on the shelf at a grocery store before the Halloween treats had been discounted. He took his rant to the social cooking site Allrecipes.com, where he had been posting recipes for corn muffins, carrot salad and other dishes for nearly 15 years.

The response, he said, blew him away. It spawned a Respect the Bird campaign on Facebook, and more than 2,500 have pledged this year “to not let Black Friday shopping gobble up my Thanksgiving.” Matthews said even his 6-year-old son is on board, leaning out of the family’s car window to yell “Respect the Bird!” at homes that already have their Christmas lights up.

Some Occupy Wall Street movement protesters have taken up the call against the consumer-driven Black Friday, calling for protests on Friday against corporate stores. As Elizabeth Flock wrote:

As the Occupy movement fighting against greed on Wall Street grows in size and action, the American holiday that celebrates consumerism is just around the corner. And protesters have already informally announced plans to “Occupy” Black Friday by protesting malls and corporate stores. Their goal? To “bring the economy to a halt on the one day they won’t be able to ignore us.”

A Black Friday protest isn’t new to the group credited with sparking the Occupy movement, Canadian anti-consumerist magazine Adbusters. The publication has in years past hosted “Buy Nothing Day” on Black Friday, which encouraged readers to purchase nothing on a day most Americans were loading up on presents for the holidays. “Whatever you decide, ‘tis the season to reclaim our year-end celebrations and make them our own again,” the magazine wrote in an ad for Buy Nothing Day.

Many companies like LivingSocial are pushing ahead with their plans for Black Friday, offering discounts up to 50 percent on many brands and retail outlets. As Hayley Tsukayama explained:

LivingSocial, the D.C.-based daily deals site, is prepping for the biggest shopping week of the season and Monday announced several national deals in honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

(LivingSocial is run by Tim O’Shaughnessy, who is Post. Co. Chairman and chief executive Don Graham’s son-in-law.)

The company revealed it would be offering half-off deals with companies including Verizon Wireless, Office Max, Electronic Arts, Sketchers, BlueFly and Skype. Other deal partners listed on the company’s Web site include online clothing retailer threadless, decal and poster company Fathead and flower delivery service FTD.

The daily deals site will start offering its deals at 5 a.m. on Black Friday and will offer a fresh batch of deals for Cyber Monday.

With the rise of daily deals sites, some have questioned whether Black Friday carries the same impact it once did.

Related content:

Full coverage: Black Friday 2011

10 Tips for Black Friday virgins

Black Friday on your smartphone

Retailers race to leak deals

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