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Retailers are imposing on Thanksgiving Day

Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

Retailers are increasingly breaking tradition and extending Black Friday insanity into Thanksgiving Day. For the first time, popular stores like Toys “R” Us, Best Buy, and Macy’s are pushing forward their opening times from the early hours of Friday morning to the late or even early hours of Thursday evening — times likely smack in the middle of family dinner.

Typically considered the official start of the holiday shopping season, Black Friday is responsible for attracting hordes of shoppers, aggressively competing for the best deals on merchandise.

Unsurprisingly, it is the busiest and most profitable shopping day of the year. Last year, Black Friday shoppers spent a combined $59.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. It could be considered a national holiday on its own, with its pervasiveness and seemingly bizarre traditions.

There are generally two teams when it comes to Black Friday. First, there are those who embrace it — prepared to wait in the cold for hours, face the madness, and marathon shop until they drop. Second are those who laugh at the ridiculousness of it and shake their heads at this prime example of America’s consumerism culture. Like it or hate it, though, Black Friday has its place.

Retailers have forgotten their place, however. They seem to have developed an inflated sense of their own importance, or have become so hungry for profits that tradition has lost meaning. It is ironic enough that a holiday centered on being thankful for family and blessings is immediately followed by a day dedicated to abandoning family for shops and the purchase of everything possible. This irony turns to hypocrisy, and disrespect, when the former is intruded on by the latter.

What right do stores have to pull people from their families on Thanksgiving?

Even those who determinedly avoid malls on Black Friday and swear that they would never resort to shopping on Thanksgiving Day will likely be impacted by earlier start times. If the stores are open, people will go, even when that means running out on their families before the pumpkin pie is served. Thanksgiving could be ruined altogether for countless retail workers who have no choice over whether or not they work.

Stores have prioritized materialism over family values, and customers may follow suit.

The change in trends has disturbing implications. Though certain stores are still holding out against the wave of earlier openings, such as Costco and Barnes & Noble, it is doubtful that they will be able to resist the pressure forever. Increasingly in the minority, these stores will lose out on valuable Thanksgiving Day profits that their competitors are taking advantage of, and will eventually be forced to succumb as a matter of simple business sense. It seems only a matter of time before Thanksgiving will become just another shopping day.

Is there anything that can be done to stop this trend? Perhaps if Black Friday was made an official calendar holiday, its events might be better confined.

However, sparing more forceful action, people should resist the urge to snag Thanksgiving Day sales. Keep the holiday special — enjoy good food, spend time with loved ones, and be grateful. The shopping can wait until Friday.