Crimes against Thanksgiving

By Anthony Zurcher
Editor, Echo Chambers


Thanksgiving used to be all about the turkey. And the football. And the Macy's parade. Shopping was for the day after - or the weekend.

The recent trend, however, is for an earlier and earlier start to the Christmas shopping season, and now some stores (such as Walmart) are planning to open for holiday sales on Thanksgiving night - or even Thanksgiving morning.

Well, in the words of The Dude, this aggression will not stand, man.

US News & World Report writer Susan Milligan has a piece today calling for a boycott of retail stores that open on Thanksgiving. Her reasoning isn't so shoppers can spend more time with their families, it's so the people who work at the stores can spend more time with theirs.

She writes:

There's almost no point in the workers complaining, since labor has lost such tremendous power in the last decade or two (and retail workers aren't likely to be unionized anyway). It's pretty clear these retailers have no concern for their employees. The only way to stop the madness is to kill it off from the other end, and boycott any kind of shopping on Thanksgiving Day (exceptions made for running to the convenience store for an overpriced container of nutmeg, since allspice cannot be substituted for cinnamon and nutmeg, no matter how it sounds).

Ms Milligan is not alone. A Facebook page has sprouted up endorsing a boycott, as has a petition.

The US public, it seems, agrees with Ms Milligan. According to a HuffPost/YouGov poll, 62% of Americans think stores should close on Thanksgiving "so workers can have the day off". In a UConn poll on Monday, 49% of respondents disapprove of stores being open on Thanksgiving (versus only 16% that approved).

Of course, there's the counter-argument that during economic hard times, bigger the paycheck for workers - particularly those in the retail sector - the better it is for them. And some stores will be offering perks and paying their employees at a higher rate.

According to a Macy's official, almost all of its Thanksgiving Day shifts are being filled by volunteers.

Actually, there may be someone making a free-market defence for stores opening on Thanksgiving.

And there is. Here.

And here.

"In this free market you have a choice, to shop on Thursday or not," writes the Binary Blogger. "If you don't like it, don't shop. If you want to get the deals, then shop. As a country if Thursday November 28th is a make or break for family togetherness, in this world of instant communication, video chats, and we still have the old-style telephones, then we as a society need to work on that the other 364 days of the year."

Or we could spend them shopping.