So today I would like to take a few minutes to address a topic that has been heavily weighing on my mind for the last few weeks. As many of you may be aware, this year, instead of opening their doors on Black Friday, many companies will be opening a day early, on Thanksgiving Day.
No, I’m not kidding.
So for those of you reading this, please, get comfortable, because I’m about to go into full-on rant mode.
First of all, I would like give a HUGE thanks to all state and government employees. I.e. the medical field workers, law enforcement, firefighters, military, etc. Most importantly, I would like to point out how vital you guys are to our country, and that without you, we would be unable to function. I also realize that people brave enough to sign up for work in these fields are also signing away many of their holidays on a yearly basis (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc.), and that it is a necessity to receive your service, even on important days such as these. You don’t have to sign up for such a stressful job, and yet you do. Seriously, I’m sure everyone can agree with me when I say how appreciated each of you really are.
On that note, I would like to move into a different field of service.
That is, retail.
So for the last many, many years, Black Friday has been a major “holiday” anticipated by many extreme shoppers. It’s the one day of the year where major retailers slash their prices essentially in half, all for the sake of allowing for major bargains. And while I myself may find it just slightly ironic that exactly one day after giving thanks with our family for what we have, it suddenly becomes acceptable to trample over everyone else in the pursuit of acquiring what we don’t have, who am I to put a damper on these excited shoppers’ spirits? Even if 42 million people were killed just last year during Black Friday weekend in hot pursuits of immeasurable deals (check it out here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/42-million-dead-in-bloodiest-black-friday-weekend,30517/) that’s just part of retail.
Fast forward to 2013.
Now, not only are major retailers open on the Friday after Thanksgiving, they’re also opening THANKSGIVING DAY!!! More deals for everyone, right? More time for eager shoppers to cross the next item off their Christmas list. More time for shoppers to curse each other out over who grabbed “Tickle-Me Elmo” first. More time for irritable customers to shout at the employee over why the latest Beyonce CD isn’t ringing out for the price listed in the ad, which is only 20 cents cheaper than usual.
Less time for people to spend with their family.
This goes for both workers and consumers.
Last year, I was absolutely baffled when the very first Black Friday customer set up camp outside their favorite retailer three days early–THREE DAYS–in order to be the first at the line, just for the CHANCE of getting one of the door-busters on Black Friday. “What if they didn’t have anyone to spend their holiday?” you ask. And to that I respond by telling you that when this particular person was asked about Thanksgiving day and why they would choose to spend it in the cold outside of a store, they responded by telling us how their family would be bringing them their Thanksgiving dinner later that week, instead of going to have dinner together.
Yes, this really happened.
I was surprised to learn that this is not the first year retailers have opened their doors Thanksgiving day. If I’m not mistaken, last year it was either Walmart or JC Penny’s (correct me if I’m wrong, please) that opened their doors on Turkey Day as well. That’s over 24 hours straight of staying open!
Also, while we’re on the subject businesses staying open on major holidays, many of you may know that the majority of theaters all around the country are open on Christmas Day, as many movies are premiered on Dec. 25th now. And though I realize there are many that don’t celebrate Christmas–to each their own–I have to say, I find this absolutely appalling. Surely whatever movie you’ve been waiting to see can wait ONE MORE DAY.
Now, let me take a moment to say that as a full-time college student, I find myself working a part-time job in order to pay all of my bills. “But you’re a published author!” you claim. “You’re rich!” Sadly, this is not the case. What money I do make from my fantasy novels gets saved. That leaves my part-time job as my main source of income.
And where do many college students find themselves working throughout their academic careers?
In retail, of course.
I would like to take a time-out, before I continue, to express how incredibly grateful I am to even have consistent paying job, and also take a moment to say what an amazing job I have, with even more amazing people. Truly, my life could be so much more worse, as could my job. And I would also like to address that I was well aware of what I would be potentially signing up for when I was hired for said job. Retail is not just green grass and picnics, as anyone will tell you. Just ask anyone who’s ever worked retail and been screamed at by some angry customer over some (slightly) unreasonable event. Despite, it could be so, so much worse. So please, do not get it into your head that I am just another person complaining about how much I hate my job, because I am far from it.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I am super psyched about spending my Thanksgiving at the workplace. I know, I know, call me crazy. And while I will say that I am still super grateful that I don’t actually have to go into work until much later in the evening that day, and that the company I work for is gracious enough to pay me for my efforts, still…what else can I say?
Now I will take a few moments to address those of you who feel the need to be a negative Nancy about the whole topic of retailers being open on major holidays: “You should have known what you were signing up for…you’re lucky to even have a job…consumerism keeps the economy spinning!”
Yes. Yes. And yes.
However, to this, I will ask if those of you that have said these same things have ever worked retail. If your answer is no, please, give it a try and then get back to me. There are also those of you that have made the statement, “Some people need to work that day,” or “Some people don’t have families to spend their holiday with.”
I have to disagree with the statement that anyone needs to work one specific day of the week versus seven other days. And as for those without a family to spend their holiday with, my deepest condolences. I wish that on no one. If you do in fact anticipate working on Thanksgiving, that’s understandable in your case, I think. But honestly, how big of a percentage of people does this apply to?
Please, to those of you preparing yourselves to tell me just how twisted it is that we Americans celebrate a holiday that originated from the slaughtering of countless innocent Native Americans so many hundred years ago, I’m well aware of just how ironic it is when related to the event of the dangerous pursuit of materialistic objects on Black Friday. But I also must say that this is not what I think about when I sit down to share a Thanksgiving meal with my family, as I’m sure many others can attest to. Rather, I think of how thankful I am to even have a family, and also that we are even able to partake in such a meal. For me, that’s what Thanksgiving day means for me.
So to sum this seemingly never-ending rant up, I leave you with this: what do corporations have to gain by being open a few extra hours this year–monetary value aside–and more importantly, what do consumers have to gain–besides a few materialistic items and the forgoing of a delicious turkey dinner? And just think: it’s these same eager consumers that allow for this to happen.
I’m just wondering, if this is the direction major corporate industries have taken presently, where will it lead to 1, 2, 10 years from now?
Moreover, having just shared with each of you what I just did, I look forward to spending part of my Thanksgiving dinner with many of you this year. I’ll bring the cranberry sauce if you bring the doorbuster ticket.
For those of you interested in further reading about Thanksgiving in the retail world, please click the link to check out one of the latest discussions revolving around the topic, and share your thoughts: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151810687043564&set=a.98701688563.93194.46038413563&type=1&theater¬if_t=photo_reply
Or, let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading, and happy holiday to you all.