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Holiday store hours anger employees, customers

With competition for consumer dollars tight, stores are starting their Black Friday sales earlier than ever -- but is that really what we want?

By Giselle Smith Nov 17, 2011 4:34PM

A number of stores have announced plans to start their "Black Friday" sales on Thanksgiving night, some as early as 8 p.m. -- but consumer reactions are mixed.


Some people are excited to get a head start on their shopping -- and to have an after-dinner activity other than watching football -- but others are outraged that a national holiday is being pre-empted by retail.


An online petition, started by a Target employee to protest the chain's midnight Thanksgiving opening, had almost 160,000 signatures as of 4:30 p.m. ET Thursday. Anthony Hardwick's Tell Target to Save Thanksgiving petition on has gotten national attention since it was posted a week ago.


"A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day," Hardwick, of Omaha, Neb., wrote when he created the petition, noting that workers need to be in the store at least an hour before doors open. "A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation -- all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night's rest on Thanksgiving!"


Hardwick found many sympathetic ears.


"I'm so tired of turning on the news the Monday after Black Friday and having to hear about how much money the big retailers did or didn't make. As if that's the point of our year-end holidays," wrote Deborah Swartz, explaining why she signed the petition.


"It's a national holiday not a national shopping day... maybe try giving thanks for your employees that bring you so much money," wrote another signer.

A recent survey by found that of 1,003 people questioned, 87% believed retailers should not be open on Thanksgiving, according to USA Today.


Giving people what they want

But the stores say they are simply reacting to consumer demand. Post continues below.


Last week Brian Dunn, chief executive of Best Buy, told The New York Times that though he feels "terrible" about opening early, it was an "operating imperative" for the store.


Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said the decision to open at midnight on Thanksgiving was based on consumer desires, USA Today reported. "We have heard from our guests that they want to shop Target following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night," she said.


"Merry Christmas! This is my favorite time of year. I get up at 4 a.m. to go shop the day after Thanksgiving. I rarely buy stuff but it is a tradition now and it's kinda fun," wrote one MSN Money reader, commenting on a post about What not to buy on Black Friday.


Some stores starting their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving:

Support for the underdog

Hardwick said the holiday has sentimental value for him because he proposed to his girlfriend on Thanksgiving last year. The part-time employee said his manager had asked him to start his 10-hour shift at 11 p.m. next Thursday night, which meant he'd need to sleep through the holiday, according to the Chicago Tribune.


Hardwick is not scheduled to work Thanksgiving night or Black Friday, however, according to Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder.


In an interview with MarketWatch, Hardwick said he has been "absolutely blown away" by the response his petition has garnered. "I honestly thought that at least I'd be able to say that I tried to do something. And then to have it actually start to catch on and go viral … is just really amazing."


What's your take? Would you shop all day on Thanksgiving if the stores were open?


More on MSN Money:

Nov 17, 2011 7:37PM
" the stores say they are simply reacting to consumer demand"

Total BS.  What they are trying to do is beat the other retailers out of sales.  In other words.... greed.  Sheer logic tells you that if the demand exists, that demand will be intact if you wait until Friday morning to open your store.  Are they trying to say that if someone wants to shop, they won't buy it unless they can do it on Thanksgiving Day?  What a crock. 

You couldn't pay me to go shopping on Thanksgiving weekend.  That is time for friends and family, not shopping.  That any retailer is open on Thanksgiving is just flat pathetic. 
Nov 17, 2011 8:13PM
Having spent the better part of 11 years working in retail management I can say this, retailers care about 2 things.  1)Money and 2) How to get more money. Thankfully I got out 2 years ago and reclaimed my life, my holidays, my friends, and family.
Nov 17, 2011 8:11PM
All of our national "holidays" have been converted into national sales "events" which screws the average retail worker out of any break from working to attend to any other need, like having a life... Remember when "Blue" laws restricted commercial activities during holidays? We sorely need a return to those restrictions. We don't live to work, we work so we can live!
Nov 17, 2011 7:40PM

I'm against being open on Thanks Giving day and the day after. I own a costume rental/retail store and could sell lots of accessories during those days but we've always been closed during those two days with the belief that our employees should have the time together with family members.


One or two days does not mean much when considering family time. This Black Friday thing is all about money and who can attract the most customers with the greatest deals, even though most people might not even be able to afford them. So what does the consumer do? Buys with credit card and transfers the debt from the retailer to their pockets and in the end the consumer will pay more through interest rate costs on monthly payments.  

Nov 17, 2011 8:22PM
I think all the executives should have to go in if they're going to make everyone else go in.
Nov 17, 2011 7:48PM

This makes no business sense.  By opening up in the early hours of the morning, retailers are betting that people will spend more money than they normally would have, or that people who normally would not spend money now will.  I don't think there's anybody who was thinking, "if only they were open at 3am, I would have spent hundreds of dollars, but since not, I'll keep my money."  The retailers are only time-shifting their customers' purchases.

I think the emphasis on shopping and spending for the holidays is ludicrous.  Stores have their priorities mixed up.  They are all on bringing in more dollars and they could care less about their employees spending Thanksgiving with their families.  If the employee doesn't want to come in Thanksgiving night they could hire someone who would.  Employees are worthless in the mighty retailer's eyes.  I can't imagine anyone wanting to run out at midnight on Thanksgiving to fight crowds and start spending money.  If no one opened until 8am on Friday, the customers would still be there.  I feel sorry for the retail clerks of America.  They want to enjoy the holidays too.
Nov 17, 2011 9:23PM

Nordstrom Department Stores Posted:


At Nordstrom...We won't be decking our halls

until Friday, November 25, 2011   Why?

Well, we just like the idea of celebrating one 

holiday at a time.


From Our Family to Yours

Happy Thanksgiving!


Nov 17, 2011 9:28PM
I am a nurse and I have worked many holidays over the years, but I get paid extremely well, double time and a half, at a good salary. My job, like paramedics, police, and firefighters are essential  I knew going into my profession that I would be working nights, weekends, and holidays.I have always felt for the retail folks who  have to put up with grabbing shoppers , trying to get 1 of the 3 specially priced items that the stores stock.  I have never and will never shop on Thanksgiving.And I am so sick of the "suck it up, you are lucky to have a job" mentality. I would like to hear just once a management team tell theses folks"We are so lucky to have you, we can't do it without you." Many of these folks take these jobs because that IS all they can find, or have to work two jobs just to put highly inflated food on their tables or out of control  priced gas in their 15 year old vehicles to get to work. Is it too much to ask for a lousy two days a year for not all, but the majority of folks to have a break?  What do you need to buy that is so important?
Nov 17, 2011 8:15PM
Personally, I think the whole Black Friday thing is absolutely ridiculous and I agree that the hours that stores are asking its employees to work are crazy.  I think that if Target wants employees to come in at 12, then I say it should be company wide.  Make the management that don't even work in retail come in at 12 and then see how long the early hours last.  Same thing with "normal" Black Friday hours.  If a Target opens at 5, I want the CEO, CFO, and all other non-retail employees to report to work at 5 also.
Nov 17, 2011 7:35PM

Just another example of capitalistic GREED of the TOP more worried about their PROFITS (in turn, their BONUSES and MONEY) than allowing employees to have an entire holiday day off.  And the crap about how consumer demands are creating this.  Yeah, right.  They open their doors at Midnight and by noon, the lines are dead as all of the good deals are snapped up.  Open your doors at 7:00AM and by the time they close, all of the same deals will be snapped up.


It is all about greed, plain and simple.  Exploit the workers as much as possible for as little in return as possible, and if they complain, then fire them, improve the bottom line, and be rewarded for it.


Just sick.  The last two years, we have done "no presents" at Christmas besides what we could fit in our stockings (little trinket items).  We have ENJOYED the time together just as much, enjoyed the creativity of what we can stuff in there, and REALLY enjoyed the enormous savings each year and the headaches avoided by trying to shop.


Nov 18, 2011 10:32AM

I just wanted to add that essential services is a totally different story.  My husband was a cop and worked many holidays for which he got extra compensation.   He was missed but it was understood that criminals don't celebrate holidays.  He also worked 24 hour shifts during 9/11 and of course, he never complained.  Point being - despite what our current President says - Americans are not lazy and will step up to the plate when necessary.  But, can someone please explain how working for near minimum wage, without overtime, during a national holiday, so people can buy a 32 inch flat screen for a few dollars less, is necessary?  Thanksgiving is unique in that is only for Americans to celebrate.  When we allow retailers to rob us of that, we are losing what it means to be American.  Just my opinion. 

Nov 17, 2011 8:11PM

How about the respect of family? Why would you take these people away from their families? I would never shop at those hours. I find it so disrespectful to make these people work.

Nov 17, 2011 8:35PM
I remember the Blue Laws. Great times as Sunday was considered a day of rest or church for those who go. I worked in a grocery store that closed on sunday and sunday afternoons the employees got together and played softball. Those times have long died and gone. America has become so corporate greedy for that dollar these days. Now its 24/7 and 365 days a week and savagely elbowing and knocking each other down for China made items at midnight or for door buster sales.

What a shame..

Nov 17, 2011 8:22PM
Since Corporate Management is requiring the stores to be open and the employees to be at work on a Holiday, it should be Mandatory that Corporate Management report to work (in a store) not in the office and set the example. I bet Corporate Management will be at home relaxing while the rest of us are at work.
Nov 17, 2011 8:35PM
I absolutely agree that corporate America needs to respect that most families get together on Thanksgiving Day!  The idea that the business comes first and family is secondary is full of crap!!!
I wish the very best of luck to the Target Employee who did the on line petition!  You got a lot of guts and I am proud of you!
Nov 17, 2011 9:11PM

It makes me sad that everything we do today is about money.  Holidays used to mean something.  You planned and planned because NOTHING was open on Thanksgiving.  You gased up the car the day before if you were traveling.  Families spent time together and shared stories and family histories.  I was in retail for 25 years and it all but ruined the holidays for me.  I wouldn't be caught dead shopping on "Black Friday".  What an appropriate title.  It's all about greed...greed...greed.  Is it any wonder that our country is in that state that it is in.  We work ALL THE TIME!!!  Cell phones, computers, and nothing is ever closed.  It certainly hasn't made my life better.  Families have no sense of the true spirit of any holiday anymore, children only know that it is about "STUFF".    Retailers:  Open at 8 A. M. on Friday, people will still spend their money, and lots of it.  Let your customers and your employees re-learn how wonderful this time of year should be!

Oh my God, all these people saying "be glad you got a job boo hoo". It's pathetic that they are so closed minded that they can't see the big picture. Times were better back when the stores closed and you had to do something like spend it with family. I guess the people shopping are more concerned with all mighty dollar as is the stores themselves! I have served my time in the military and in retail. I'll not be going back to either due to the attitudes of both. When we sacrifice the things we are to hold dear in order to save or make a few bucks just shows the shallowness of our egotistical nature as a country!  I myself will choose to shop where employees  are given some consideration to the fact that they have lives outside the store! That my dear children is what our troops are helping to maintain by sacrificing themselves overseas!
Nov 17, 2011 11:04PM
Seriously folks???  All this hate spweing because of working on a holiday is asinine.  Does anyone remember when the whole freaking city shut down for holidays?  You flew the day before the holiday and the day after the holiday because the airport was closed.  Need gas for the car?  Better fill up the day before cause none were going to be open.  Forgot something for the meal?  Call your family to see if one of them had it because the grocery stores were closed.  NOTHING was open until the day after the holiday except for emergency services.  Remember what you did since everything was closed??  You hung with your family and if your family was not around you hung with your close friends.  You talked to each other catching up on things, ate until you were ill, wrestled with your cousins and played board games with your grandparents.  Then those that like football watched football and those that didn't sat in the kitchen and nibbled on the leftovers and gossiped.  YOU SPENT TIME TOGETHER!!  With the way the world is now we have forgotten how to just simply BE TOGETHER and would rather go spend money we don't have on crap we don't NEED.  Take a minute to remember what it used to be like and then ask yourself if you REALLY like the way things are now.  If the answer is NO, then change it.  It is up to us to get things back to the basics.  Me, I'm enjoying my family and staying home.
Nov 18, 2011 8:35AM

I need to respond to all the people who keep saying if retail workers don't like it, they can quit and let someone else have their job. I work retail and for the most part I really enjoy my job so I don't want to let someone else have it. But on the other hand, I enjoy Thanksgiving with my family also. When I started this job, we opened at 5 am on Black Friday, so no, I didn't know what I was signing up for. I never dreamed I wouldn't be able to have Thanksgiving with my family. (I also work overnight on Wednesday)


As for all the people who would love to have my job, if that's the case, where are they? We can't fill the positions that are open. So my assumption is that either people don't need jobs that badly, or maybe they just don't want to work lousy hours for even worse seasonal employee pay.

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