Giving thanks for Black Friday

Amy Miyahara, Editor-in-Chief

Traditionally, Thanksgiving means  feasts, reunions, fresh baked pies and families taking the time to appreciate each other’s company. But for the 151 million consumers who spent a combined $10.4 billion  last year during Thanksgiving and Black Friday, the holiday is also a shopping opportunity to buy  as much stuff for as little money as possible.

Companies should not make people feel obliged to skip spending time with loved ones on Thanksgiving Day. Furthermore, people should not choose to spend Thanksgiving, a day devoted to gratefulness, out shopping.

Major corporations such as Macy’s, Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s are opening their doors as early as 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, in addition to opening all day for Black Friday.

However, not all major retailers will be open on Thanksgiving. Taking a stand against the trend of early store openings on Thanksgiving,  Nordstrom, Staples, Costco and Marshalls are among the companies that will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

“We encourage our customers and employees to enjoy Thanksgiving however they choose, with their families and friends,” Steve Matyas, Staples President of North American Retail, said.

Other companies should follow the example given by these corporations.

The whole concept of Thanksgiving, after all, is to take the time to “give thanks” for all  we have in life, whether they be tangible or otherwise. Starting Black Friday sales before Friday for the sake of profit undermines the spirit of Thanksgiving by emphasizing the spirit of materialism in America.

Critics argue that those who work Thanksgiving shifts want to work. Some say that these people don’t have friends or family to spend Thanksgiving with and want the extra money.

Kmart, which will open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day and remain open until 11 p.m. the following night, said that their policy “gives associates the opportunity to make some additional money this holiday season.” But while huge corporations such as Kmart want people to think that they have the best interests of their employees at heart, the reality is that these companies just want more money for themselves. These companies don’t always allow workers to choose their schedules and require employees to work based on demand.

Every year, when I drive by Best Buy, I see a line of tents camped out in front of the store filled with discount hopefuls, waiting several days before Thanksgiving. The fact that these people are willingly missing out on Thanksgiving gatherings in exchange for a chance to get a cheaper TV shows our society’s misplaced values. It’s sad that major corporations prioritize money over their employees.

It would be nice if all stores were closed on Thanksgiving. However, with the profits that Thanksgiving sales bring, it is unlikely that all companies will enforce this policy. The power then lies with the individual over whether they will choose to be greedy or grateful on Thanksgiving.