But while we’re all in favor of taking back Thanksgiving from retailers, we’re also aware that it’s going to take a lot more than several hundred thousand names on a petition in order to change the tide.
KEEPING UP WITH THE WALTONS
The fact is that Target is not the earliest-opening store this Thursday. Technically, that belongs to Sears, which will be throwing open the doors at 6 a.m. on Turkey Day before closing up in the afternoon and then reopening at 8 p.m. that evening. Similarly, Walmart and Toys R Us will both open at 8 p.m., all a full hour before Target.
If Target were to wait until midnight or later while its competitors rake in cash and get national news coverage for their stores, the store’s leadership would have a lot of explaining to do to shareholders about why Target didn’t reap the benefits of an early opening.
Also, by opening at 9 p.m., Target can poach customers who come late to one of the 8 p.m. openings and say, “Screw this, maybe we have time to get in line at Target.”
Of course, we live in an occasionally unpredictable world, so it’s possible that all the stores opening early this year will somehow backfire. But Target leadership would likely rather test it out and fail than play it safe and lose out.
PEOPLE WILL WORK
While opening on Thanksgiving will rob any number of retail employees of fully enjoying their holiday, there are plenty of people who work at these stores who are willing to show up on Thursday night.
“The enormity of asking some of our store teams to work on Thanksgiving night is not lost on us,” said the Target VP of human resources in a statement. “We recognize some team members are cutting short time with their families to work.”
Between economic hardship, seasonal workers and people who just don’t want to spend another Thanksgiving around creepy Uncle Jerrold, it’s probably not hard to bring in a full staff for the evening.
“Hundreds of stores had more volunteers wanting to work than shifts to fill,” said the VP.
However, the Target employee who started this latest petition responds:
“Up until a few days ago, there was a sign at my Target store listing ‘blackout dates’ that employees couldn’t request off, and Thanksgiving was one of them. If that’s not a policy mandating people work on Thanksgiving, I don’t know what is. As team members, we weren’t consulted about the opening plans and didn’t even learn about the Thanksgiving opening until we received our schedules.”
Even if a large number of employees weren’t willing to come to work on Thanksgiving, as long as the retailers can bring in enough people to keep the building from burning to the ground, they will find a way.
This latest petition had 350,000 signatures, which is a rather sizable show of support. But signing a petition is not the same as actually voting with your wallet.
If consumers want to protest a major national retailer for opening early on Thanksgiving weekend, they don’t really have many choices. The Gap, Macy’s, Best Buy and many others will be opening at midnight, with others, like Staples, waiting until 5 a.m. Friday.
We wonder how many of the 350,000 people who signed the petition will choose not to shop at Target this coming weekend, or this holiday season, or a few months down the road.
The folks at Target HQ know that it’s likely only a small percentage of them will be lost to the store altogether. Until retailers see a significant drop in sales as a response to their invasion of Thanksgiving, things aren’t going to change.
“[I]t cost a lot of money for Target and retailers to open their stores early,” writes Thomas Lee of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the hometown newspaper of both Target and Best Buy. “They wouldn’t do so if they didn’t see a demand or financial benefit.”
This is why I recently put forth the idea of letting Black Friday completely wash over the Thanksgiving dam, moving it up an entire weekend in order for retailers to get the sales out of their system and give us all our holiday back.