Early Holiday Sales Put Profit Ahead of Consumer, Employee Well-Being
Early Black Friday sales put profit ahead of the well-being of consumers and employees
November 21, 2012
As a Target employee of nearly six years, I have seen store openings for this contrived holiday, Black Friday, get pushed earlier each year. This day now holds as much importance as the federal holiday the day before, also known as Thanksgiving.
Executives of retail companies have said they are merely responding to consumer demand, but what they are responding to is each other. When one company decides to open earlier, the others need to fall in line or risk losing business. It is an industry-wide grapple for consumers and their wallets. And while these companies are pushing their customers to buy more earlier, they are failing to see how it is affecting the very people that help them run their business: the employees.
An earlier start to the holiday shopping season drives down the morale of employees and strains the work-life balance that companies like Target claim to value. While I understand that these companies need to make money, I don't think it needs to come at the sake of family time on Thanksgiving or worker morale. Retail workers understand the increased tensions that accompany the holiday shopping season and work through it, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere. The day after Thanksgiving is a reasonable beginning to the stressful holiday rush.
Earlier shopping also affects consumers and their families. People are being asked to choose between spending time with family now and getting good deals on gifts they will give their families next month.
In short, this isn't just the grievance of an incensed retail employee who wants a day off. This is a bigger issue about retailers valuing their bottom line over the wellbeing of their customers. That's why 365,000 workers and consumers alike have signed a petition I started on Change.org: they agree that pushing the holiday shopping season earlier into Thanksgiving is crossing a line.
I fear that by continuing to let the beginning of the holiday shopping season creep earlier, we will start hearing holiday music in stores as soon as we wrap up our family barbeques on Labor Day. Everyone should remember that retail workers are people too. Try putting yourself in our shoes during the holiday season. Consider what it would be like to have a day, previously reserved for only the most essential services to remain open, taken away from you because profit is all that matters.