By Laura Fawaz
TMO Contributing Reporter
Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving in the U.S. that marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, with crowds being drawn in for special offers and deals.
Even though Black Friday has been around for decades, in recent years there has been overwhelming focus on the Friday and Thanksgiving Day sales. This has many Americans complaining that the holiday family time is being replaced with shopping. A Facebook page was even created with the goal of stopping this tradition, and boycotting the companies that choose to open on Thanksgiving Day. Created in October 2010, “Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Day” began to help those who are forced to work on Thanksgiving Day, or as they put it, “Stop retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day, plucking employees from their Thanksgiving Celebrations.” They even included a “Naughty/Nice List” that provides all the retailers that choose to either open (those that are naughty) or close (those that are nice) on Thanksgiving. “If we don’t shop on Thanksgiving Day, it won’t be profitable for the retailers and they won’t do it again next year. It’s that simple.” the boycott page says.
Though the hype of Black Friday has dwindled down a bit there are still plenty of shoppers who camp out for deals the evening of Thanksgiving and the next morning to buy $30 DVD players at Wal-Mart. They wait in hopes of getting, for example, a laptop or TV that is on sale. Hundreds of other people in line all wait on the same thing, with most stores only carrying a few of each sale item.
Outdoor outfitter REI decided to close all 143 of its stores across the country on Black Friday, and even making it a paid day off for all of its employees. Jerry Stritzke, REI’s president and CEO, urged employees and would-be shoppers alike to instead enjoy the great outdoors instead of waking up at the crack of dawn to stand in line Friday morning. “We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us,” Stritzke said in a statement.
According to the boycott Black Friday Facebook page, other companies who will be closing on Thanksgiving are Costco; Sam’s Club; Nordstrom; T.J. Maxx; H&M; Staples; Bed, Bath & Beyond; and Cabela’s, just to name a few. Some of the companies on the naughty list are Target, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Babies R Us / Toys R Us, ABC Warehouse, Bath & Body Works, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, JC Penney, Macy’s, NY & Co., Sears, Ulta and Yankee Candle. None of this applies in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine due to their states’ Labor Laws prohibiting retailers from opening on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
One boycott member posted, “Our family plans [for Thanksgiving] were ruined after we were notified just a week ago [four weeks prior to Thanksgiving]. The corporate, HR, and management have given the [notice that] ‘you must work that day, otherwise a write up would ensue and possible termination’.”
According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving and Black Friday accounted for $50.8 billion in revenue last year. Those numbers are slightly down from years past.