Be thankful – not greedy

A very dangerous precedent was set this past Thanksgiving when Macy’s, Sears, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Bon-Ton and other major stores all decided to open for Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving. In effect it dissolved a major holiday, one of the few that – until this year – was viewed as sacred.

The retailers claimed that they “had” to open on Thanksgiving night because the way the calendar fell. There are only 26 “shopping days ‘til Christmas” compared to 32 last year. They also said they had to compete with online retailers. The thing is, all of these retailers have very extensive online sites and if someone bought something online they certainly were not going to be receiving it at their house Thanksgiving night or on Black Friday either.

What happens is that a store that opens at 8 PM requires its employees to be there at least by 7 PM to get their drawers, etc. That means the employee has to start getting ready for work at 6 PM, basically ruining their holiday.

Now that greediness is extending into Christmas itself. I have read that outlet malls are staying open until 8 PM on Christmas Eve, and Target is allowing its stores to stay open until 9 or 10 PM, causing many employees to miss their Christmas Eve church services.

My prediction: Look for “After Christmas sales” to start on Christmas Day itself. First, stores will start opening at 10 PM, claiming people just can’t wait for the next day to go hunting for bargains. The next year it will be 8 PM, then 6 PM, then 8 AM.

It is all just part of the deterioration of the American culture. After all, why should you have to wait until the next day to exchange that festive sweater Aunt Barb spent hours picking out for the waffle iron you really wanted? Just open the box, huff “This isn’t what I wanted!,” grab the gift receipt, jump in the BMW, and head over to Macy’s.

Unfortunately the trend of opening later hours is extending into the supermarket community as well. There was a time – not long ago – when all of the major supermarkets were closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Then they started opening until noon, now I notice it is increasingly 6 PM. Soon it will be just another day of business.

Of course there are still a few holdouts. Petersons Fresh Market, profiled as my Retail Spotlight in our December issue, is one of the few stores closed on Christmas – and Sundays too.

“There are religious aspects, but it is just what we’ve always done,” says co-owner Monte Peterson. “I feel we are better off this way. I really do. It is a benefit to our team members to have one day off. If I required my employees to work Saturday and Sunday, and if they had kids in school, when would they have any family time?”

Petersons is also open for a few hours on Thanksgiving, but Monte can remember back when that was the rule EVERY Thursday. “When I was a kid we closed the grocery store on Thursdays at noon. The whole town did. That was when they would go to ball games and do family things like that.”

You have to give Petersons credit for standing on principle. And you have to induct those stores that feel they “have” to open on major holidays into some sort of Hall of Shame – or maybe Hall of Stupidity. After all, if your business model is so flawed that closing two or three days a year will cause you to plummet into the red then maybe you should just do the world a favor and go out of business.

And if you are a consumer who has to go shopping for your complete Thanksgiving dinner on the last Thursday in November then maybe you should just go eat in a diner.

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