Black Friday keeps turning Thanksgiving ‘gray,’ despite criticism

Customers shop at a Target store on Thanksgiving Day in 2013. (Associated Press).

BYU student Nicole Law recalls the first time Black Friday shopping became a Thanksgiving Thursday tradition. Her aunt’s family was in town, and her cousin wanted an iPod touch for Christmas. Law and company arrived at the store at 11 p.m. Thursday night to wait in line to get the deal.

Millions of people across the nation will start lining up on Gray Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, in anticipation of amazing deals on Black Friday at retail stores. As recently as three years ago, retail stores began opening their doors Thursday evening. This year retail stores are pushing the opening times earlier than ever.

“We will open our doors at 6 p.m. on Thursday night for shopping,” said Todd Boston, operations manager of the SuperTarget in Orem. “The decision to open earlier was made by Target in order to compete with the other stores.”

Many retailers are facing criticism for opening on Thursday night, a day reserved for family time. The Facebook page Say No to Shopping on Thanksgiving has garnered more than 64,000 likes, creating a conversation about staying home with family on Thanksgiving instead of shopping. Retail store managers are conflicted about what actions to take — to allow shopping on Thanksgiving night or open early Friday morning.

“I really don’t think that stores should open on Thursday,” said Law, a junior studying physiological and developmental biology. “I think it is unfair for those employees, and really no one should be shopping that early anyways. It’s Thanksgiving — they should be with their families, not shopping.”

It’s uncertain where the name “Black Friday” originated, but there is speculation the name gained popularity back in the 1960s as a description of accounts moving from red ink, indicating a loss in sale, to black ink, indicating a profit, according to Black Friday’s webpage.

The National Retail Federation expects more than $50 billion in retail sales Thanksgiving weekend, making this the most-shopped weekend in the calendar year. Last year 248.7 million shoppers were in stores or online over the holiday weekend, just up by half a percent from the previous year.

Many families get excited about shopping on Black Friday. Both Law and Boston see Black Friday as more of an event than a shopping trip.

“The majority of the guests are excited, not necessarily to save money but as an event to be together with family members,” Boston said.

When the store opened, Law’s mother and aunt went to the housewares section to get kitchen containers and appliances while Law and her cousin went to the electronic section to get an iPod. However, the sale for the iPod wasn’t until 6 a.m. The two decided to wait all night at the front of the line in order to get an iPod. They sang songs and talked to those also in line to remain entertained and stay awake during the night.

With stores allowing round-the-clock shopping experiences, stores were required to hire more staff for the weekend. “Because we will be open for so long we had to hire more employees,” Boston said. “We are being flexible with them so they can be with their family, but most of them are excited to work extra hours for the extra money.”


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