Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and holiday shopping

I’m not going to cite a specific news article for this post, because the news on this one is rather widespread and should easily be found. There has been a huge controversy over the past couple of weeks about retailers starting their Black Friday sales as early as 8pm Thanksgiving Day, effectively cutting into their employees’ Thanksgiving dinner time and complicating any travel plans they may have had to visit family in other cities.

This wouldn’t be so bad except for one thing. I, personally, have noticed a trend in recent years for seasonal merchandise to be out earlier and earlier. The Halloween season starts not all that long after Labor Day in September, and the Christmas/Yule merchandise is already out the first week of November. I’m all for marketing, in general, but it’s no secret that retailers profit handily during the Christmas/Yule shopping season and the greed inherent in promoting the season a whole two months in advance is quite palpable.

It comes down to basic economics. The retailers will not start Black “Friday” sales as far back as Thursday evening, or even Friday at midnight, if the demand isn’t there. It only takes one time for a retailer’s management to get burned by unnecessary labor costs on top of the headache of finding employees willing to blow off their Thanksgiving dinner to work (which, even in retail, is not quite as easy as it sounds), to realize they made a mistake. Hitting a retailer’s bottom line will make a much more profound and meaningful statement than a petition ever will. On the other hand, as long as there are enough people attending the early Black “Friday” sales the evening of Thanksgiving Day, they’ll be here to stay. Again, it’s all about supply and demand.

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