There’s one more annual tradition we can add to the Thanksgiving turkey feast and uncomfortable dinner conversation: the trip to the mall for “Black Friday” sales. We can now put Black Friday in quotes because the shopping is actually starting on Thanksgiving Thursday. So instead of taking a nap in order to wake up around 2:30 in the morning to be first in line with the doors open, people aren’t even going to sleep. It’s straight from pie to the mall.
There have been some vocal complaints about the early start to the holiday shopping spree. The Huffington Post recently wrote that people are “pissed” with Kmart for opening at 6am on Thanksgiving, with the site posting screenshot after screenshot of Facebook griping, most of it on behalf of the store’s employees. Graciously, some see this as an intrusion for sales associates who aren’t making nearly enough to justify being pried from family, friends, and good food.
However, a spokesperson from Kmart and Sears told MN Business that sales associates working these hours agreed to do it for extra pay.
“During the Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday hours, stores will be staffed with seasonal associates who have volunteered to work. In addition, all eligible hourly associates are to be paid time and one-half their regular rate for all hours worked on the Company paid holiday, except where state or local laws require a higher rate,” an email statement reads.
Walmart announced this week that it’ll be open 6pm ET on Thanksgiving Day, the same time Best Buy will open its doors. Toys R Us will open at 5pm, Target at 8, and a number of other retailers including Macy’s and Kohl’s will open on Thursday for the first time.
In announcing the plan to be open for 41 hours straight, the press release from Kmart and Sears pushed perks for Shop Your Way members and a new Lease-to-Own program. Indeed, it’s all of the discounts and extras that are available during Black Friday that willingly gets lots of people to the stores during the holiday. For all of the complaints, shoppers have showed up on their own accord in the middle of the night to buy holiday goodies.
But according to The New York Times, the money train might be sputtering this year. First, there are six fewer days to shop this holiday season. And though there are more hours to shop, that doesn’t necessarily mean people have more cash to spend. In fact, last year sales on Black Friday fell 1.8 percent, but that could be because people had already started shopping the day prior. Holiday sales, overall, are only supposed to go up 3.9 percent this year, reports The Wall Street Journal (figures provided by the National Retail Federation).
The only thing that’s going to stop retailers from starting Black Friday earlier and earlier in the week are lower sales number. Complaining and signing online petitions add up to nothing when people turn up at all sorts of hours during Thanksgiving to spend their money. If there are some people who want to shop on Turkey Day, certainly that’s their prerogative. For everyone else, they just need to put their money where their mouth is. Or rather, enjoy another serving of dessert, another glass of wine, or one more movie on the TV and let the madness happen at the mall.