Laurie Howard of Joliet, Illinois joined the rest of the crowd looking for early bird specials on Black Friday at Westfield Louis Joliet Mall in Joliet, Illinois Friday November 26, 2010. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 17, 2011 8:31AM
As stores up the ante with earlier holiday hours that creep into Thanksgiving night, Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday, and some shoppers and employees aren’t happy about it.
Anthony Hardwick, a cart attendant at a Target in Omaha, Neb., started a campaign to protest the decision to open at midnight, four hours earlier than last year. His online petition calls for Target to push its opening to 5 a.m. Friday. He had 62,000 signatures as of late Monday.
“With the midnight open, you’re going to cut into a lot of people’s family time because you have to rest up if you’re going to be working overnight,” says Hardwick. He says he’ll be in bed by 2 or 3 p.m on Thanksgiving.
Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder says the decision to open earlier is due to consumer desire. “We have heard from our guests that they want to shop Target following their Thanksgiving celebrations rather than only having the option of getting up in the middle of the night.”
ConsumerSearch.com found in a recent survey that 87 percent felt retailers should stay closed on Thanksgiving. “There’s definitely a family spirit around Thanksgiving that people don’t really want to see adulterated,” says Christine Frietchen, editor in chief of the site.
Kristi Tolley, a floral designer in Charleston, S.C., agrees.
“Having retail stores open on the holidays has taken away what once was sacred time with loved ones, which is not good for employee morale,” she says. “I will not be shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I feel that it is wrong and has gone too far. What’s next? Being open on Christmas Day?”
Still, there’s a difference between what consumers say, and what they do, says John Long, a retail strategist. “My guess, based on past trends, is we’ll see massive amounts of consumers in stores, even at these earlier hours,” he says. “If you think about it, 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. are more convenient than 4 a.m.”
Gannett News Service