'Black Thursday' Backlash Could Spurs Strikes, Protests
Workers are fighting back as the annual shopping bonanza encroaches ever more on Thanksgiving—but will bargain-hungry customers subvert their crusade?
Retailers are raring to go this year: Target, Walmart, Toys 'R Us, Kohl's and a host of other stores will be opening early—on Thursday, not Friday. All are hoping that consumers will fight off the food coma in favor of big bargains, but the incursion into Thanksgiving Day has employees seeing red.
Minnesota's own Target is subject to a petition started by a Target worker from California, which has garnered over 350,000 signatures so far. There are It's not the first time that Target's Black Friday ambition has brushed up against employee resistance. Last year, Target's midnight opening was the subject of worker protests. In 2012, Target upped the ante by scheduling its annual doorbuster opening at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving evening, when the pumpkin pie will likely still be in the first stages of digestion. Workers will be working through the night and into the morning.
The petition calls such hours “inhumane and inconsiderate,” imploring the retail giant to, "Give Thanksgiving back to families. The world won’t end if people have wait 7 more hours to buy useless junk that will be outdated in a year anyway."
Target's competitor, Walmart, is facing both an online petition and the possibility of large-scale strikes across the nation. Walmart has said that it will open its doors even earlier than Target, at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
Officials at the United Food & Commercial Workers Union and the group Making Change at Walmart, have said that strikes are planned in six major cities and many states including Minnesota, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Louisiana and Minnesota. Organizers have not specified which stores will be involved.
So far, retailers have not changed their plans. According to KARE 11, Target management expressed sympathy but remains unmoved by employee Casey St. Clair's petition, which was hand-delivered to its corporate offices on Monday.
"The enormity of asking some of our store teams to work on Thanksgiving night is not lost on us. We recognize some team members are cutting short time with their families to work," Target Vice President of Human Resources Tim Curoe said in a written statement. "And so, once again, to our team, and to their families and friends, we say thank you."
Consumer polls suggest that customers are inclined to agree with executives, not workers. A recent survey by Deloitte found that about 23 percent of consumers say they'll shop on Thanksgiving itself, up from 17 percent last year. And as long as buyers are lining up outside the doors, retailers will stay open—even on a holiday once considered a sacrosanct family tradition.
“The retailer will stay closed on Thanksgiving under only one condition—the consumer stays home to watch football instead,” wrote Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry expert, in the market research company’s latest blog. “This is an experiment that has become contagious, and most retailers want to find out if it works.”