In times past, most American retailers would give their employees time off during the Thanksgiving holiday so they can spend quality time with their friends and families over turkey. However, in some companies, that tradition is starting to look like a thing of the past.
Unless these workers live in Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island - three states that have laws banning the shops from opening on Thanksgiving Day - there are retailers who plan to be open on this sacred American holiday. According to Alexander Kaufman of Huffington Post, the retailers claim they're just giving customers more options.
"It's a sign of desperation," retail analyst and consultant Howard Davidowitz said. "In order to take business from someone else, you've got to create a sense of urgency, got to have more sales, got to have more, earlier door-busters."
According to Jeanine Skowronski of Bankrate.com, retails have an economic incentive to open on Thanksgiving Day. In survey commissioned by Bankrate, just 28 percent of Americans plan to shop in a store on Black Friday on Nov. 28, while only 25 percent of consumers plan to shop online on Cyber Monday, which falls on Dec. 1 this year.
Michael Norton, a professor at Harvard Business School, thinks that the mindset of consumers has changed to the point that retailers have to adapt to that reality.
"Consumers are becoming conditioned to expect really deep discounts very often, "Norton said. "It's training people to wait even longer."
Early Thanksgiving sales have placed a dent on traditional Black Friday sales, according to 48-year-old Georgia resident David Bakke. He told Bankrate how hard it was to get into Wal-Mart last Thanksgiving, so he waited until the next day to continue his shopping.
"I was stunned at how few people I saw," Bakke said. "The stores were dead on Black Friday because everyone had gotten everything done on Thanksgiving night."
Trae Bodge of RetailMeNot.com told Bankrate that there "are a lot of different options for consumers now," adding that retailers have made changes to the shopping holiday itself, including opening on Thanksgiving. He argues that retailers are resorting to these methods to keep the madness of Black Friday crowds down to a minimum.
"Black Friday had a bad rap for a while and it seemed to get worse every year," says Bodge. "From a retailer standpoint, it was really on them to do something about it."
The big-box stores that are open on Thanksgiving Day include major retailers such as Sears, Wal-Mart, Kohl's, Staples, Macy's and Target, which will all open at 6 p.m. J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Toys R Us, and Best Buy plan to open its doors an hour earlier, and Kmart will open up to shoppers as early as 6 a.m. that day.
Sears Holding Corp., which runs both Kmart and Sears, released a statement justifying the early open times on Thanksgiving. Senior vice president Leena Munjal noted that there are many options for consumers to start their shopping early.
"This holiday season is all about giving more to our members and because many like to start shopping well before Black Friday, we're excited to open our doors early on Thanksgiving and offer other early access opportunities for them to shop and save," Munjal said in the statement. "I'd also like to especially thank our seasonal associates and those who have volunteered to share part of the day serving our members on Thanksgiving."
Other retailers mentioned in the Huffington Post noted that they are compensating their employees who work over Thanksgiving with either holiday incentives or discounts. For instance, JCPenney plans to conduct "exciting activities and giveaways" to show how much it appreciates "the hard work and dedication of our associates," while Macy's says that anyone who works on Thanksgiving "will be compensated with incentive pay."
Despite that, Jesse Tron of the International Council of Shopping Centers thinks that the day after Thanksgiving, as opposed to the holiday alone, will still be a big day for retailers.
"When you look at one specific day, you're not going to get over 50 percent of people going to shop," Tron said to Bankrate. "For the most part, Black Friday will be the busiest shopping day of the year."