Wal-Mart, Black Friday, Thanksgiving, and the retail worker

Richardglobalheader (4)
Thanksgiving for my family, as I am sure for many of yours, is a very special holiday.  It’s a sleepy day in which everyone eats too much turkey (thank you Tryptophan) and too many carbohydrates.  The day before Thanksgiving is historically the biggest travel day of the year demonstrating that extended families will go to extreme measures to see each other.

I can distinctly remember one Thanksgiving when my father was asked to work on Thanksgiving Day.  He felt pretty bad about it as did we all.  It put a pall over the holiday as the cares of the rest of the year shouldered their way through the front door and into our holiday.  

It was for that reason that I became concerned after reading that Wal-Mart was planning to open 10:00 PM Thanksgiving night. Toys R Us has subsequently announced a 9:00 PM opening.   

As of this moment it is unclear whether these other retailers will follow Wal-Mart and Toys R Us in moving up the start time.  I just hope that the retailers who do plan these openings take some time to consider the impact that these early openings have on their workers and their families. 

What complicates my concern is that there are a great number of people who are out of work, and if employed, could use the overtime pay (they are getting overtime aren’t they?).  So what is more important on one of our most important holidays; being open a few extra hours and  providing work for the un or underemployed or allowing families to have a peaceful day?

I can’t answer for others.  I just know that in a time in which family is one of the few soft spots for people in a tough world, it might be wise for employers to consider their employee’s time investment against the company’s projected financial ROI.

What do you think?



4 thoughts

  1. I I agree with Richard & Mike and I am certain that Wal Mart gives little or no Thanksgiving Day consideration to the well being of it’s employees or the public. As long as the public flocks to Wal Mart to purchase low quality Chinese made products in record quantities we can expects to see more and more intrusion into what made America great by Wal Mart and their Asian business partners.

  2. Good reflections, Richard. I’m with you. I think that we’ve really eroded our sense of traditions and family that used to be associated with the Holiday season in order to placate the god of consumerism.
    For my part, I will be at home with family playing a board game Thursday night.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. The bigger picture issue that these companies are not taking into account is the cost of employee turnover. Treat your employees this way and you will need to replace them more often.
    Is it any wonder that the stores with the earliest open times have traditionally had the highest turnover rates?
    And this Thursday opening isn’t just taking them away from their families that night. If your shift starts at 9pm, you have to be sleeping all day to have any chance of being ready to handle the onslaught of customers.
    I’d rather that my staff has time off Thursday to rest and spend time with family, and has a good night’s sleep before getting here at our normal 9:30am opening. Maybe that’s why my staff of 25 has an average of 11 years employment with me.

  4. As with all retail considerations, votes are cast with each dollar spent. It’s a shame not only that these companies are going to make their hard working employees work even harder on a holiday away from their family, but that enough customers will (no doubt) be in line outside those same stores that night, also away from their families, waiting for the clock to strike 9pm. In the absence of that crowd, we would also have an absence of that corporate decision – but with that crowd comes the near certainty that this will not be a one-time event.

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