Holiday Shopping Marathon Costs Retail Workers their Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving marks the start of the annual holiday shopping race, as more stores open to seek a bigger share of spending.

Total holiday sales during November and December are predicted to grow more than 4 percent. Photo: Andrea Markowski/Flickr

Black Friday will arrive again this week, even as Americans are still sitting at their Thanksgiving dinner tables, CNN writes. The holiday rush has shrugged off the confines of its name and has now established squatters’ rights on Thursday.

Multiple stores are scheduled to open at 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night, three hours earlier than the stores’ midnight opening last year.

According to a Reuters report, Target Corp has joined Wal-Mart and Gap Inc in being open at least part of the day.

Walmart’s U.S. discount stores will offer some “Black Friday” deals at 8 p.m. and special deals on some electronics at 10 p.m. Target will open at 9 p.m. on Thursday and Toys R Us will start its work at 8 p.m.

Other retailers, like J.C. Penney Co Inc reportedly will not open until Friday morning, so shoppers trying to get all the deals will need a lot of stamina.

“The retailers are taking what was a very plannable sport that was four or five hours where you can get things done and turned it into a marathon,” Trutina Financial Chief Investment Officer Patty Edwards said. “I think the retailers have diluted the sport.”

The store employees around the country are upset that the schedules will deprive them of a big part of their holiday Thursday (many of them will have to arrive hours before the customers).

Gap Inc. will have 1,100 stores open on the Thursday holiday, roughly the same number that opened their doors last year.

The firm has been testing Thanksgiving hours for just three years now. According to Gap Inc. spokeswoman, the retailer has little choice but to open early again.

“The response from customers has prompted us to continue opening stores on Thanksgiving,” she said.

As The Huffington Post reports, Thanksgiving openings are becoming so much the norm. The electronics retailer Best Buy allows its employees to come shortly before an opening time of midnight on Black Friday, as the company did for the first time last year.

“Our goal was really this holiday to be able to give employees time with their loved ones. That’s why we’re opening at midnight,” said Erin Bix, a company spokeswoman.

She explained that summoning to work before the tryptophan has worn off still seems cruel, Bix noted the more aggressive hours of Best Buy’s competitors. “We had full knowledge other retailers would open earlier,” she said.

Workers have tried to push back against the earlier opening times, by filing dozens of petitions sprouted at Change.org this month.

They asked retailers and other stores to preserve the holiday for employees, most notably a petition aimed at Target that garnered more than 350,000 signatures but apparently didn’t sway management.

Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman, reports that up to one-third of the store’s employees will be clocking in on the upcoming family holiday, earning overtime pay for the holiday as well as bonus differentials.

Many of the company’s employees are “excited to work on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year,” Snyder said. “We’ve heard from many stores that they had more team members volunteer to work than they had available shifts.”

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