Today, there will be a little departure from the blog’s usual fare so that I can climb on my soapbox to address an issue near and dear to me.
My youngest daughter has worked at an Old Navy store for the past several years and has contributed several bad customer stories to the site. Last October, just one month before Thanksgiving, the store manager announced to the employees that Old Navy/Gap corporate office had decided to open the stores on Thanksgiving Day and in fairness to all, everyone was required to do a minimum 2 hour shift. The scramble was on as employees who had made travel plans had to get replacements or change their plans, single mothers who had been planning to spend their day off with children now scrambled to find babysitters, and the level of discontent was high. My daughter got scheduled for the 5- 7pm slot.
My daughter immediately looked up the contact information for the corporate office and called the Executive Vice President, of Human Resources Eva Sage-Gavin to politely register her complaint about this unprecedented new policy of opening on Thanksgiving Day. To their credit, Ms. Sage-Gavin’s staff were considerate in their communications. When Daughter asked if the corporate offices would be open as well, she was assured they would be. The question of whether any of the 1 million+/ year salaried corporate officers would be working as well was never answered with any clarity.
We viewed the decision by Gap/Old Navy to open on Thanksgiving Day to be a bad harbinger of more retail greed in the years to follow as other retailers scrambled to be the first to compete for limited consumer dollars. Perhaps it was inevitable once stores had begun opening their doors for business at 4 am on Black Friday. (My daughter, incidentally, finished her 5-7pm shift, came home for a few hours and had to go right back out at 3 am to work an 8 hour shift on Black Friday. )
On November 11, 2010, Sears issued a press release announcing that its stores would be opening on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since its founding in 1893. Sears claims it was responding to customer demand:
“Our decision to stay open on Thanksgiving Day was based on our customers’ response and desire to have an extra day to shop,” said David Friedman, SVP, Sears Holdings and president of marketing, Sears Holdings. “We are always listening to our customers to make their shopping experience easier, and now, by being open on Thanksgiving, they can start their shopping early or pick up last minute items needed for their Thanksgiving celebration.”
The press release then lists a number of specific sale items intended to lure customers to shop at Sears on Thanskgiving Day. Is Sears catering to an existing consumer demand or creating consumer demand to be open so that shoppers can purchase the specially priced items?
If Sears, Gap and Old Navy are responding to what they claim is consumer demand, shame on you consumers who patronize these stores on Thanksgiving Day and 4 am on Black Friday. Your need to save money will surely trample all over someone else’s desire to spend the holiday with family or friends as they are often compelled to work when they would rather not.
Why Retail Businesses Should Not Be Open on Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day is the most iconic of American holidays celebrated by as many as 98% of the population with a traditional meal and/or gathering with friends or family specifically to celebrate on this day regardless of what kind of meal or if they are even having a meal. It cuts across religious, ethnic, racial, gender, economic status, rank, and generational lines to bring our nation together for one day. It should be preserved for the unique holiday it is.
Unlike professions such a law enforcement, fire and medical whose employees work on holidays to provide needed emergency services to protect and save life, there is no pressing civil need to sell retail merchandise. People who choose to be firemen, police or nurses and doctors do so knowing they will be called upon to leave family on holidays for the greater good of their community’s residents. There is no redeeming social value to a retail business being open exchanging goods for dollars on a holiday. The argument can be made that there is a negative social value as the holiday becomes nothing more than another commercialized, frenzied shopping day.
Sears survived and thrived through 117 years of recessions, panics and the Great Depression without once opening for business on Thanksgiving Day. Chick-Fil-A restaurants are not open on holidays nor every Sunday for that matter yet their business continues to thrive and expand. Opening for business on Thanksgiving Day is, in my opinion, a declarative statement that either the retailer is greedy or it’s indicative of poor business management that fails to be efficient and cost-effective throughout the year thus necessitating in the corporate mind the need to depend on one day’s sales to meet the sales goals.
What Can You Do?
Boycott patronizing any retail establishment on Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy your family and friends and if you miss out on buying that awesomely cute sweater at Old Navy, at least you won’t be contributing to someone else missing out on their family time.
Shop Black Friday deals online. Googling “Black Friday Online Deals” will yield sites like http://www.blackfriday.info/online/ offering some great deals if you sit at desk in the comfort of home or office and click the mouse a few times. Sites like www.Southernsavers.com alerts readers to great deals all year round! It’s one of my favorite sites!
Tomorrow’s story is a tale of Black Friday horror!