As the hours are ticking down until the corporate climax of the year, we’re seeing more and more people camped outside retail stores, advertisements preaching the deals and savings offered by companies, and plenty of criticism. People complain that stores are starting Black Friday shopping way too early by opening Thursday night (or in Kmart’s case, early Thanksgiving morning). They say that businesses are ruining the Thanksgiving holiday by commercializing it instead of focusing on family. Or that they’re too consumed by money to think about their employees by making them work on the holiday.
I think the protesters are directing their complaints at the wrong people. Personally, I don’t like to shop on Black Friday (at least until the crowds die down a bit) and I don’t think I would ever want to go out Thanksgiving night or pitch a tent outside Best Buy no matter how low the prices were. But the fact that some people enjoy doing that doesn’t bother me, and I don’t blame the businesses for opening early and encouraging more customers to come shop on Thanksgiving.
I’m a business student, so I love to defend big businesses (not just for the sake of making people mad, but because I really do tend to side with the companies), and I think when it comes to the idea of starting Black Friday early, the brunt of the blame falls on the consumers. It’s not greed that motivates Walmart to open its doors early, it’s the company seeing a great opportunity to increase sales that they’re going to jump on. From a strictly business perspective, it would be stupid not to open the store if you know you’ll be making tons of profit that day. Businesses do what customers will respond to, and if customers will shop on Thanksgiving, companies will open on Thanksgiving.
As far as the notion that big companies are heartless and cruel for making their employees face the crowds on Thanksgiving instead of letting them spend the day with their families, I think that’s just a downfall of working in the service industry. Thanksgiving Day is known for the football games, yet I’ve never heard anyone blame the NFL for commercializing the day by making the employees at the stadiums work on the holiday. Christmas Day is a big day for moviegoers, but how many people protest movie studios for releasing their movies on that day, thus forcing employees to come into work? And restaurant workers know the feeling of working on the holidays all too well, but is anyone blaming the food industry? What makes retail workers any different?
As I mentioned, I’m not a big fan of shopping on Black Friday or Thanksgiving, but if some people want to go out at 6am on Thursday, I say they should go for it. It’s not hurting me any, so I have no room to complain about it. And I can see that retail workers would be upset about having to work rather than enjoying their turkey dinner (I wouldn’t want to be in that position) but it’s a fact of life that not everyone can relax on the holidays. The country cannot shut down because it’s Thanksgiving. I just think it seems hypocritical to blame retail giants for ruining the holidays when other industries have avoided the protests and complaints for decades.
What are your thoughts on the issue? Are you okay with the early Black Friday store openings? Or do you believe that companies really are the ones to blame for our increased commercialization?