Should Thanksgiving Become Just Another Shopping Day?

thanksgiving dinnerThis year, even more retailers are planning to keep their stores open on Thanksgiving Day, a trend that may be threatening to turn the nation’s annual day of thanksgiving into just another holiday shopping day.

Writing for the Associated Press, Anne D’Innocenzio cites the story of one woman who was so offended last year when her relatives left immediately after Thanksgiving dinner to go shopping that she is now refusing to cook another holiday meal for her relatives again.

“They barely finished,” says the 28-year-old Kimberly Mudge Via, who lives in Boone, N.C. “They thanked me and left their plates on the counter.”

It’s a scene that may soon be playing out across the country as more and more retailers are getting the jump of Black Friday by opening their stores earlier and earlier each year. Those that opened in the wee hours of the morning on Friday are now pushing up their opening times into Thanksgiving to compete with other chain stores that are doing the same.

Stores like Target, Toys R Us, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Kohl’s are among at least a dozen major retailers who are planning to open their doors on Thanksgiving.

D’Innocenzio interviewed Roger Beahm, professor of marketing at the Wake Forest University School of Business in Winston-Salem, N.C., who estimates that within five years, most chain stores will be open all day on Thanksgiving.

“The floodgates have opened,” Beahm says. “People will turn Thanksgiving Day shopping into a tradition as they historically have on the day after Thanksgiving … And stores don’t want to be left behind.”

There’s plenty of incentive for retailers to keep their doors open with many of them reaping 40 percent of their annual revenue in these last two months of the year.

“But so far, it’s unclear whether opening on Thanksgiving boosts retailers’ top line or simply pushes forward sales from Friday,” D’Innocenzio writes.

“Last year, it was the latter: Sales on Thanksgiving were $810 million last year, an increase of 55 percent from the previous year as more stores opened on the holiday, according to Chicago research firm ShopperTrak. But business dropped 1.8 percent to $11.2 billion on Black Friday, though it still was the biggest shopping day last year. That day accounted for about 4.3 percent of holiday sales last year.”

Retailers say they’re just responding to the demands of some of their customers – but not all of them. According to D’Innocenzio, some angry customers have even threatened to boycott retailers who violate the importance of the holiday by luring people away from their families and into shopping malls.

“I think it’s turning into a day of greed _ for shoppers and stores,” said Jennifer Gillis, 49, who refused to shop at Sears and Kmart last year because of how they commercialized Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, some retailers are refusing to go along with the trend.

Travis Smith, CEO and president of Jo Ann Fabric and Craft is planning to open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday morning. “We believe it is important for our team members to be able to spend this time with their loved ones,” he said.

B.J.’s Wholesale Club is also refusing to open on Thanksgiving. “Once again, BJ’s is bucking the trend of putting sales on Thanksgiving above family time,” BJ’s said in a statement. The stores will open at 7:00 a.m. on Black Friday.

Costco is another retailer whose doors will remain closed on Thanksgiving. “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families,” said Paul Latham, the company’s vice president for membership and marketing, in an email to The Huffington Post. “Nothing more complicated than that.”

Nordstrom is also keeping it’s doors closed, and isn’t too worried about the loss of sales because they make more money during their annual anniversary sale in July than on Black Friday. According to company spokesman Colin Johnson, their stores have a long-standing tradition of not unveiling their Christmas decorations until Black Friday.

“This goes back as long as anybody here can remember,” Johnson said. “Over the years we’ve heard a lot from our customers, and they appreciate that we take this approach.”

A movement is afoot to save Thanksgiving from the commercialism that has already turned the Christmas season into a meaningless buying frenzy. This Facebook page is seeking “likes” from consumers who want to mark the holiday in the way it was intended – as a time for family and friends to gather to give thanks to God for all of His blessings.

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