The Holiday Shopping Season That Never Ends

Can we please do something about ceaseless holiday creep?

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People make purchases at the Black Thursday sale at the Toys 'R' Us store in Times Square Nov. 22, 2012 in New York City.
Shoppers spent an estimated $57.4 billion from Thanksgiving Day through Sunday, Dec. 1, down from $59.1 billion in 2012.

Holiday creep is officially upon us. We no longer celebrate holidays according to their sequential order on the calendar, but live in a blended world of endless holiday and retail promotions. For years, retailers have staged "Christmas in July" sales, and by September each year are marketing with Christmas decorations, merchandise and advertising. We have created artificial holidays such as "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" to launch even more "holiday" sales. 

This year, Thanksgiving is the latest celebration to fall prey to holiday creep. Toys R Us, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's have all announced pre-midnight Thanksgiving hours. Kmart has even announced that it will open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving morning and remain open for 41 straight hours. We're told that this is the season that can account for as much as 40 percent of a retailer's annual revenue.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the economy.]

Should we be outraged at the retailers for this crass commercialism? Is it their fault that workers' holiday time with their loved ones is being short-changed or does the fault lie with us, the consumer, for being so willing to abandon our family and pumpkin pie to get 20 percent off Tickle-Me-Elmo?

Last year, 35 million Americans left their dinner tables and went shopping, up from 29 million the year before. So is the market simply responding to the demand? If no customers showed up, would the stores remain open on holidays? 

In his sermon this past Sunday, pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California expressed dismay over what he calls "an avalanche" of store openings on Thanksgiving. Warren called on fellow Americans to do their part and not to patronize stores on the holiday. "Can you keep just this one day a year for family?" he challenged.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Are 'Black Friday' Christmas Sales Starting Too Early?]

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, as it's a chance to reflect on the past year and express gratitude to friends and loved ones for special moments and gifts of kindness. It's a time to express how thankful we are for the generosity of others and say grace for those who have passed. Unlike Christmas, it's a day without the pressure of hoping your gift will be well-received, while smiling when opening another reindeer sweater. 

I, for one, will answer Pastor Warren's call and do my part by not promoting further holiday creep. It's my hope that retailers will respond to a different market reality in the future; one that asks us all to pause for a day, and just relax. 

  • Read Pat Garofalo: Kmart’s Black Friday Hours, Thanksgiving and America’s Weak Labor Protections
  • Read Lara Brown: What President Obama's Plummeting Poll Numbers Say About American Politics
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