Open For Business on Thanksgiving

For the past six years, my Thanksgiving Day routine has gone something like this: get coffee at Starbucks, grab breakfast at McDonalds for the kids, fill the tank at the Shell gas station, buy a pack of Trident and hit the road to spend a perfect day with family. These businesses had real live people working there. I am curious as to why we are so mad when retailers decide to start their “Black Friday” sales on Thanksgiving evening.  With so many other industries open on this day, why are we mad at retail? While your company may give you the day off, many others are open to provide a service so you can enjoy the day. 

Think about all that you experience on Thanksgiving Day. Beyond my travel experience, my family gets together and we watch football, play games, celebrate being together and give thanks. Dad will forget the cranberries. Uncle Mark won’t bring enough beer and wine for everyone. We are thankful that the grocery store is open on Thanksgiving to be able to get those things.

There will be 3 NFL and 2 NHL games played on this day. Players are employees and they have to work. All of the employees at the stadiums and restaurants around the area will be hard at work to make sure you have a hotdog and a soda. They all have to work on Thanksgiving. We don’t think twice when we dial up SportsCenter, while in our turkey and stuffing-induced stupor, to see the highlights of the day. We are thankful for Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt.

We do a little online shopping on Thanksgiving to avoid the crowds. People are fulfilling those orders. People are providing technical support to the sites you are using. We are so thankful for Amazon.

Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Macy’s announce they are opening the evening of Thanksgiving? Bring out the petitions and boycott the stores. Why is this any different?

I have heard arguments that Thanksgiving is the one day a year when we should spend time with family and truly give thanks. We shouldn’t have these retail sales shoved in our face. These employees should get to spend time with family. Well, not everyone sees this day in these Norman Rockwellian eyes. Many people actually enjoy the work they do and consider their co-workers as their family. It is not our place to decide how each individual should celebrate the holiday.

I spoke with a human resources executive of a large retailer about her thoughts on this topic. She said the reality is that their associates choose to work retail and know that odd hours exist. She also said that many of the associates like the buzz and atmosphere of the day. As an HR business partner in the media industry, I know there are expectations that our employees may have to work at odd times and during some holidays. It is our role to set the expectations of the job, up front. Prospective employees of certain industries realize there are sacrifices with the line of work they choose.

Ultimately, decisions to open on any holiday are made around profitability. Businesses have run the numbers and determined their sales far exceed the cost of labor. It makes business sense for them. It may not ring true for those who feel there is a moral obligation to let workers have the day off, but consumers are driving this. These stores open because we flock to these stores and buy. The media reports on all of the families who get together to stand in line for the savings. Personally, I have a choice to either go to these stores or stay back and enjoy more football. And, for that, I’m thankful. 



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