It was bad enough when "Black Friday" started in the actual pitch blackness, with stores opening before dawn so shoppers with questionable motives or psychological stability could barge through the door and get one of the exactly three TVs on super-sale for the holiday weekend (and that's after someone already hid two of them in another department). Then, the store openings moved up to crazytime, such as 3 a.m. or even midnight.
But really, do we truly benefit from stores opening on Thanksgiving Day itself?
A number of stores, including Macys, JC Penney, Best Buy, Sears, Target, Bass Pro Shop and Kohl's, will be open on the holiday itself. A few are displaying the basic decency to open after dinner on Thanksgiving, but some are throwing doors open to shoppers first thing in the morning. Perhaps the retailers think they can get a few more sales in or transform the entire holiday weekend into a shopfest in a desperate attempt to give an extra jolt to our consumer-driven economy. Whether it will work is an open question.
But whether it will work doesn't matter, because it is truly disgraceful to ruin the holidays of so many retail workers by requiring them to deal with shoppers – especially cranky, crazed discount shoppers – on a day when they should be relaxing and enjoying football and a big meal.
There are people who have to work on Thanksgiving – police, transportation workers, pilots, hospital workers and even newspaper reporters. We've all done the holiday duty in the early part of our careers in those fields. But hospitals need to be open in case someone gets sick or is in an accident. Police need to be working in case there's a crime. Newspapers come out every day, and need a staff working every day.
But what is the point of having Old Navy open on Thanksgiving Day? Is it the concern that someone will overdose on pecan pie (a mistake – it's even heavier than it looks, and sits like a brick in one's stomach) and will need an extra-large pair of sweats? And Michael's opens at 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Is the idea that people will be so bored by their families at that point, they'll need to pick up some arts and crafts supplies to get through the rest of the night?
There's almost no point in the workers complaining, since labor has lost such tremendous power in the last decade or two (and retail workers aren't likely to be unionized anyway). It's pretty clear these retailers have no concern for their employees. The only way to stop the madness is to kill it off from the other end, and boycott any kind of shopping on Thanksgiving Day (exceptions made for running to the convenience store for an overpriced container of nutmeg, since allspice cannot be substituted for cinnamon and nutmeg, no matter how it sounds). That's really the only message they'll understand: If no one buys, they won't try this offensive stunt again next year. Or maybe they'll start on Wednesday night at midnight in 2014 – selling, of course, gifts for Christmas 2015.