Yes, I made a very similar argument a year ago (not that it was going to change anyone’s mind), and I’ll probably restate some of the same points this year (again knowing what little impact it will have) because I do think it’s something worth starting a public discussion about.
With many of the largest retailers opening during or shortly after dinnertime this Thanksgiving, here are the reasons I think detaching “Black Friday” from its historical “Day After Thanksgiving” slot on the calendar is to everyone’s benefit.
1. STORES GET THE EXTENDED HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON
Some have argued that this year’s let’s-open-on-Thanksgiving boom is a reaction to the fact that the late Thanksgiving date (11/28) this year takes away precious shopping days from retailers during the holiday season. I personally don’t believe that, especially since a number of retailers crossed that midnight threshold last year, when Thanksgiving was almost a week earlier in the calendar.
But assume for a moment that this is a motivating factor in the on-Thanksgiving openings. I say, why not declare that Black Friday is the Friday before Thanksgiving? It’s not like it’s a date established in any religious or legal texts. It’s just a day on a calendar that lots of people have off from work.
Since most people don’t have off today but do have off this weekend, retailers could have started Black Friday sales after regular closing hours tonight with the same doorbuster deals they will be offering next Friday.
Additionally, gives the retailers that entire weekend plus all the days before Thanksgiving and then the three days after the holiday to continue having sales.
So even on the years when Thanksgiving is at its earliest, retailers would still have an additional week of holiday shopping.
2. SHOPPERS WILL SHOW UP
If you discount it, they will come.
People love deals and coupons and limited-time offers. This is not a secret. People also tend to show up for hyped-up events. Stores created Black Friday so there is absolutely no reason they couldn’t devote that same level of publicity toward relocating the shopping event by a few days. It’s not like they would be asking people to buy Christmas gifts in May (though someday they surely will). If some major retailer had decided to go all-out and have some huge special sale event at midnight, there would be people lined up right now.
3. EMPLOYEES WILL WORK
Moving Black Friday to this weekend also helps employees at these stores. This year, a number of workers at many large retailers have to decide between getting the extra pay for working on Thanksgiving or spending time with loved ones on the holiday.
By making Black Friday a special event that does not in any way overlap Thanksgiving, stores would be allowing employees to enjoy the holiday without having to say no to their employers or to the additional income. Happier employees are often better employees. In a retail world that is trying to stress the in-person experience over the cold impersonal world of online shopping, it really helps to have workers who don’t openly hate their employers.
4. IT DOESN’T MEAN AN END TO TRADITIONAL BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING
A number of people over the years have expressed to me and to Consumerist that these on-Thanksgiving openings don’t dampen their holiday because they have traditionally gone shopping with their loved ones on Black Friday.
Moving the huge, mega-doorbuster, get ’em while we got ’em deals up a week doesn’t stop stores from opening early on the morning after Thanksgiving, or even in the middle of the night.
Retailers could still hold out some big deals to entice shoppers in the doors post-Turkey Day, and these consumers would still get to enjoy strolling through the aisles with their friends and families.
All that moving the start of this doorbuster season up a week does is allow Thanksgiving to go back to being Thanksgiving, rather than a quick lunch before you go get in line for a TV that isn’t worth the $80 they’re charging, or put on your uniform and get ready to go to work.