Earliest Black Friday openings ever upset some employees


It looks empty now, but just wait until the midnight following Thanksgiving. Image: j.reed/Flickr/CC BY-SA

Some people are starting to call the holiday shopping ritual Black Midnight instead of Black Friday. More and more retailers are pushing up their Nov. 25 openings to midnight in order to shove even more shoppers through the turnstiles. But this is causing stress for many of their employees, who hadn’t expected to give up their holidays for the employer’s bottom line. And some of them are fighting back.

Employees sleep through Thanksgiving

“My fiancee is sad because I was supposed to have Thanksgiving dinner with her family and talk about wedding plans,” Anthony Hardwick, a New York Target employee, told CNN Money.

Instead, he will be sleeping the day away in order to be fresh enough to work his 10-hour Black Friday opening shift. “It’s kind of a raw deal,” he siad

Online petition against Target

In response, Hardwick started a petition called “Tell Target to Save Thanksgiving” on the advocacy website Change.org. He has collected more than 80,000 signatures as of mid-day today.

Some stores open Thanksgiving

This year’s midnight opening is the earliest target has ever unlocked its doors to the public. And Target is not alone. Kohl’s, Best Buy and Macy’s have all announced plans to open doors at 12 a.m. on Nov. 25. Walmart and Toys-R-Us have decided to get a jump even on that. Walmart will open at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and Toy-R-Us will start at 9 p.m.

Some retailers are standing by the decision, saying employees are being compensated for their inconvenience, and that the stores are only honoring the requests of patrons.

Target released a statement saying:

“We have heard from our guests that they want to shop following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night. Target will offer holiday pay to all hourly team members who work on Thanksgiving Day.”

Many shoppers displeased

Not all shoppers are pleased with the earlier openings. Sarah Caron, 31, told CNN:

“I used to love shopping on Black Friday. But the earlier hours — or worse, opening on Thanksgiving — have been a complete turnoff to me. That takes people away from their families on a day that should be all about family.”

Many retailers have felt pressured to follow suit. Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn said “I feel terrible” at being forced to make the decision to open at midnight.

The genie is out

Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., told CNN that retailers are looking for whatever competitive advantage they can to help make up for losses over the last three or four years. He warned, however, that now that a precedent is being set, it may become expected in years to come.

“How do you put the genie back in the bottle on what has traditionally been a day without consumers?” he said.


CNN Money
Chicago Tribune
Wall Street Journal 

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