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Black … Thursday?

November 17, 2011
Marshall Independent

We're disappointed that some stores in Minnesota, most notably Walmart and Target, have made the move to open earlier than normal for Black Friday. A number of stores will open their doors at 10 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, two hours ahead of the more traditional midnight opening. Toys R Us is taking it one step further and opening up at 9 p.m. 9 p.m.!

Walmart, which opened at midnight on Black Friday last year, will have specials on toys and clothing, beginning at 10 p.m., then follow that up by discounts on electronics, beginning at midnight. Other items will be discounted at 8 a.m. on Friday.

Mostly, we feel for the employees of the local stores of these major chains that have no control over when corporate decides to open. They won't even have their turkey digested by the time they clock in. They're the ones getting a raw deal. One Target employee was so upset about the early opening he started a petition to protest the company's decision. More than 75,000 have signed it. We understand stores are nervous in this economic climate, but we question how much of a difference this early opening will make and doubt it's worth taking people away from their families on Thanksgiving.

If you're a bean counter, however, the decision to open early makes sense. Thanksgiving Day openings have annually provided a boost to retailers during the economic downturn. The number of people who shop on Thanksgiving - both online and in stores - rose to 22.3 million in 2010, about double the amount from 2005, according to the National Retail Federation. But won't people spend just as much money at midnight if they choose to venture out than they would at 10?

Commercialism during the holidays is certainly nothing new - many of the larger "box" stores begin putting out their Christmas displays right after Halloween - but this is taking it too far.

A large contingent of shoppers look forward to Black Friday, even plan their week around it, because of all the money they can save. To some, it's even turned into kind of a tradition they share with their family or friends - people have some fun with it. But there's nothing fun about stores encroaching on a national holiday for the sake of a better bottom line or to keep up with their competitors.

We hope the employees of these stores who find themselves pulled away from their families on Thanksgiving night will get the extra compensation they deserve.



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