Many of us remember a time when, if you needed to buy something on Thanksgiving Day, you were out of luck. Cities were veritable ghost towns. You were lucky to find a gas station, and grocery shopping was out of the question. Then, some stores started to open on Thursday, allowing shoppers to pick up that last-minute turkey stuffing. As a child, I remember going with my Mom to shop the day after Thanksgiving. Many stores opened an hour or two early on “Black Friday” back then, but it was hardly the mob scene it is today. Now, many national chains have begun opening in the evening of Thanksgiving Day.
Just try to get on County Line Road or go to Dogwood, and you will see the madness about which I’m talking. Last year, my 16-year-old and I headed out Thanksgiving night because he wanted to get a particular game at Gamestop, which opened at midnight. The line was at least 200 people, and snaked out the door. After waiting for 1 1/2 hours, we finally got to the register. Was it worth it? In retrospect, probably not. I could have gotten the same stuff online (and probably cheaper). And I don’t know if I ever recovered the sleep I missed. (What a drag it is getting old…)
Last week, we published a poll to find out what readers had planned for Black Friday. Only a few people completed the survey, but it did provide some good anecdotal information. The most popular answer was to avoid Black Friday shopping altogether. No one answered that they were going to do all their shopping online.
“I think it’s gotten out of hand,” said one respondent, advising stores to “have good sales, but don’t make people show up in the middle of the night to get them. It’s not worth it, if you’ve missed all the good deals by 6:00 a.m.”
Lately, some employees of Target (soon followed by other retailers) signed a petition to request that Target stores open at 7 a.m. Obviously, petition organizer Casey St. Clair struck a nerve: More than 200,000 retail employees signed the petition. Still, Target says it doesn’t expect to change its plans to open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night. “Open at 7 a.m. on Friday,” said one of the poll respondents. “You have time to get what you want!”
And now we hear that many employees of Wal-Mart have had enough, and thousands say they plan to strike next Thursday and Friday. To be fair, this is not just about Black Friday. It’s part of the retailer’s growing battle with unions over their organization of Wal-Mart employees, and growing frustrations among employees with pay, working conditions and planned increases in health insurance premiums. These same stories are now reverberating throughout the retail industry.
Regardless of what your plans are, here’s hoping you will find the value you seek. As for me? No more midnight trips for video games. Been there, done that. “Go hide until shopping zombies return to their slumber,” wrote one wry poll respondent. Sounds like a plan to me.