Updated: November 21, 2012 at 12:00 am
Forget the crowds lined up in the predawn darkness of Black Friday as they wait for store doors to open. For some shoppers, the thrill of the bargain hunt will begin the day before as they race from the Thanksgiving dinner table and head for the shops.
Each year, the Black Friday clock starts ticking ever earlier. This year, many stores will be opening at midnight Thursday, but they’re slackers compared to some. Target is opening its doors at 9 p.m. Thursday, three hours earlier than last year. Some of Wal-Mart’s Black Friday deals begin at 8 p.m. Thursday. Sears and Toys R Us stores open their doors at 8 p.m.
Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season; the earlier start on Thursday is being labeled “Grey Thursday.” And many readers who commented on Gazette.com and on The Gazette’s Facebook page are not happy about the trend.
“Can’t we get through one holiday before the other starts?” lamented Theresa Oswalt-Day. “I love Christmas, don’t get me wrong. But come on people, let Thanksgiving be Thanksgiving before the mad rush of Christmas shopping.”
“Thanksgiving should be a time spent with family, reflecting on our blessings, not contributing to the further commercialization of Christmas,” Amber Singleton Carlton said. “Not to mention how unfair it is to the employees of those stores to have to give up part of their holiday to deal with crazy shoppers. But as long as people are willing to spend their money, stores will continue to do it.”
Some employees are fighting back. Casey St. Clair, a Target employee in California, hand-delivered more than 350,000 signatures from her Change.org petition on Monday to the company’s corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, asking Target to reverse its decision to open at 9 on Thanksgiving night.
“The enormity of asking some of our store teams to work on Thanksgiving night is not lost on us,” Target Vice President of Human Resources Tim Curoe said in a statement in response. “We recognize some team members are cutting short time with their families to work. And so, once again, to our team, and to their families and friends, we say thank you. And yet, we’ve heard from many of our team members that they are supportive of our plans, excited to get additional hours, holiday and incentive pay, and understand the need to compete.”
Of course, for some — from law enforcement to movie theater employees — working the holidays isn’t new.
“Kmart has been open on Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember,” Marci Backstrand Hunt said on Facebook. “What I find disturbing is now to attack others for doing the same and be outraged that employees have to work if you are not one of them. Hospitals have staff on holidays, as do restaurants, customer service call centers in many industries.”
Several readers commented that stores would stay closed if people stayed home.
“We the consumers should unite and tell the retailers we won’t sacrifice our families and friends just to shop with them a few hours earlier,” Sandra Seidell said.
Adrienne Lundeen encouraged those on Facebook who are “horrified” by the trend to take a deep breath.
“I’m indifferent,” she said. “I don’t like the crowds, but people have the right to choose whether or not to succumb to the allure of materialistic objects and brave the crowds onThanksgiving night, or wait until Friday. Or hey, they can do what I do and just do all holiday shopping online.”