Foon Rhee

Give thanks for stores not opening on family holiday

Shoppers crowd the aisles as they wait to get inside the GameStop at Arden Fair mall in Sacramento on “Black Friday” last November. GameStop is one of the chains saying that it will stay closed on Thanksgiving Day this year so employees can be with their families.
Shoppers crowd the aisles as they wait to get inside the GameStop at Arden Fair mall in Sacramento on “Black Friday” last November. GameStop is one of the chains saying that it will stay closed on Thanksgiving Day this year so employees can be with their families. rbenton@sacbee.com

The Christmas displays keep going up in stores earlier and earlier – this year even before Halloween was over. There’s just something wrong with Santa and goblins at the same time.

So I’m happy to see that some retailers are pushing back against one of the worst excesses of commercializing Christmas – opening for business on Thanksgiving Day because Black Friday just isn’t enough. Some major chains, including Costco, GameStop and Marshalls, are even advertising that they are staying closed this year and allowing their employees to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

Yes, it’s also a marketing ploy – giving up one day of sales in hopes that shoppers will reward them. I still say: bravo.

It’s far better than what other companies are doing. Kmart is opening at 6 a.m. – and staying open for 42 hours straight. Old Navy is trying to entice shoppers by offering a chance to win $1 million – if you’re one of the first 100 in line at each store.

While I understand the lure of big bargains, especially for families struggling to make ends meet, I’ve rarely gone anywhere near a mall, even on Black Friday.

I’m not alone, either. Of all the topics I’ve touched on in nearly five years at The Bee, three drew the most response outside Sacramento, thanks to the magic of the Internet. When I said that even guitar legends get too old to perform live, fans of Bruce Springsteen in particular let me have it. When I wrote that lane-splitting by motorcycles was dangerous, a flood of angry emails came my way. To prove his point, one cyclist offered to give me a ride. (Scared I would never be seen again, I politely declined.)

Readers, however, agreed with me when I wrote that retailers were ruining the holiday by opening earlier on Thanksgiving. The piece appeared in several newspapers across the country two years ago.

“You are so right,” a woman from Arizona emailed me. “Even if I had forgotten potatoes, I wouldn’t go to the grocery on Thanksgiving.”

“It has been something that has irked me for quite some time – how retailers have pushed more and more and made the holiday less about family, friends, rest and reflection upon one’s blessings,” emailed a reader in Charlotte, N.C.

I hope the backlash against Thanksgiving shopping will continue to grow. There’s a “Boycott Black Thursday” page on Facebook that had 85,000 “likes” and counting as of Thursday afternoon.

I’m also realistic: As long as retailers make money by opening on Thanksgiving, they will.

Still, here’s what I’d like to see this year – far fewer scenes of shoppers fighting over that last $79 flat-screen TV, and more of retail workers feasting on turkey with loved ones.

  Comments