Blue Laws Getting Shoppers Down? 3 States Where You Can’t Shop On Thanksgiving

November 18, 2014  |  

Even though retailers nationwide would love for consumers to start their Christmas shopping early by hitting the stores on Thanksgiving Day, some states won’t allow it. Three New England states have something called blue laws. Blue laws, which were first drafted in the colonial era to encourage people to attend church services on Sunday and holidays, ban retailers from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas. The states are: Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island.

But some retailers in those states want the law changed. According to Jon B. Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, some businesses there have called for lifting the ban on Thanksgiving hours.

“We haven’t really been under pressure to change the laws here,” Hurst told Huffington Post. “Frankly, it wouldn’t be my cup of tea to go out on Thanksgiving night and shop. I’d rather watch football.”

To get around the laws, some determined shoppers travel out of state to stores in Connecticut or New Hampshire, something that doesn’t sit well with Hurst.

“We know those stores are busy on Thursday night,” Hurst said. “So it raises the question: Are Massachusetts blue laws stopping consumers from shopping? Or are they just stopping them from shopping in Massachusetts?”

Others think it’s great the stores are shuttered on the holiday. They feel retailers have waged a “war on Thanksgiving.”

“I used to work in retail and it stinks to work on the holidays,” said Juliana Bondor, of Holyoke, Massachusetts, in a segment aired on local ABC affiliate WGGB. “Especially for Thanksgiving — that was started as a holiday for Americans to be together with family — I think the laws are important to protect workers.”

Even some national chains, such as Costco, Marshall’s and Barnes & Noble, are going to celebrate the holiday by remaining closed.

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