When Will the Black Friday Madness End?

I remember when part of my family’s Thanksgiving tradition was finishing our delicious meal together, cleaning off the table, then busting out the Black Friday ads. We would all pass these ads around the table, circling and initialing the items that caught our eye – either as a potential present for us or for someone else. We all knew that if we wanted something, there was a good chance my determined mother and sister would beat the rush and get them. This was way back, when stores would open at 6:00 am on Black Friday. Those days are long gone and now that tradition has been compromised. Yes, my loving mother and sister still go out amid the madness on Black Friday, but the family understands that the majority of these door busters are unattainable because by the time we finish Thanksgiving dinner, stores are either already opening or the line is around the building.

Earlier this week, Macy’s announced it will open at 8:00 pm on Thanksgiving with Black Friday sales. This announcement positions Macy’s with other top retailers who have made the jump to opening their doors on Thanksgiving day to remain competitive in the time sensitive Black Friday market.  Most stores will wait until the last possible moment to announce their opening time as they are waiting to see what their competition will do – so retail employees shouldn’t make any plans for Thanksgiving night. Last year, Sears, Toys R Us and Walmart all started their door buster Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 pm with Target following at 9:00 pm. The initial plan of stores opening at 6:00 am, a couple hours earlier than normal store hours to give customers a head start on shopping, is now considered “late.”  In recent years, opening time has crept from 6:00 am to 4:00 am to midnight – and now to 8:00pm on Thanksgiving Day.  Will the madness of stores trying to gain this competitive advantage ever end? As long as stores have customers waiting in line for hours before opening the doors, they will continue to open earlier. But when will these corporations stop thinking about the additional sales, and start focusing on the people involved?

There will always be that group of employees, usually referred to as “the crazy ones”, who enjoy working on Black Friday, even if it begins Thanksgiving night. And they have valid arguments for this interesting joy. The most consistent argument is that it is kind of fun.  Wait…reporting to work Thanksgiving night, dealing with customers in their most demanding state and having to inform them that the item they had their heart set on purchasing for over 60% off is out of stock is considered fun? For some, yes! Having a change of pace to the monotonous work day is fun. Employees get responsibilities on Black Friday completely different than on any other day of the year and these employees are so busy that the day flies by. Plus a day that flies by when you’re earning some holiday pay, if opening on Thanksgiving, and getting more hours than usual can definitely be appreciated by some.

But then there are those hundreds of thousands of employees signing petitions and organizing walk outs to stop their retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day. There are also customers who would prefer to spend Thanksgiving Day with their families but cannot afford to pay full prices for the items their children have been talking about for months. Not only is there competition for retailers to open earlier, but there is also competition for the customers to get in line earlier to purchase the limited supply of merchandise. Some customers threaten to boycott Black Friday to prompt retailers to make a change, but these customers will be the ones missing out on the 50″ flat screen T.V. for $300.

So far, being the leader in ending the Black Friday creep and restoring Thanksgiving as a holiday to spend with family around the dinner table, instead of waiting in line outside of a store or working inside of a store, is not worth the loss in sales to retailers. There will always be people willing to sacrifice their holiday to either earn a paycheck or get the best deal of the year.

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