Fears of Black Thursday spark national blowback | TheUnion.com

Fears of Black Thursday spark national blowback

Whitney Phillips
The Union news service
FILE- In this Friday, Nov. 25, 2011, file photo, a crowd of shoppers wait outside the Target store in Lisbon, Conn., before the store opens for Black Friday shopping at midnight. Stores are making a big push to lure in bargain-hungry shoppers before the Friday after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. They are putting on special sales that further creep into Turkey Day, and earlier. (AP Photo/The Day, Sean D. Elliot, File)
AP | The Day

At this rate, Black Friday may soon morph into Black Thursday.

Major retailers such as Target and Walmart are seeing backlash as their Black Friday door-buster sales spill over into Thanksgiving. Nationwide, employees and customers have organized walk-outs and petitions protesting Thanksgiving Day sales that start as early as 8 p.m. in large retail chains.

Target announced last week it will open its doors earlier than ever to join other nationwide stores in offering deals on Thanksgiving.

“Opening at 9 p.m. gives Target’s Black Friday guests a more convenient way to create an after-dinner shopping event that the entire family can enjoy,” the company’s website states.

Walmart, Kmart, Toys R Us and Sears, which offered door-buster sales last Thanksgiving, will open even earlier this year.

The idea of employees having to leave their own Thanksgiving tables early this year doesn’t sit well with some local shoppers. Greeley, Colo., resident Jeff Reynolds, 46, said the reason for stores opening earlier each year is likely consumer-driven.

“I can see how it makes it difficult for employees who want to take Thanksgiving off to spend with their families,” Reynolds said.

Kristah Frank, a 22-year-old University of Northern Colorado student, said earlier hours on Thanksgiving change the dynamic of Black Friday, especially for employees.

“That cuts into (the workers’) holiday time,” she said.

Nationally, the increase in Thanksgiving store hours has sparked petitions and planned protests.

One Target employee in California started a petition on change.org asking Target executives to “Take the high road and save Thanksgiving.” That petition has gathered about 300,000 signatures on the website. Dozens of similar petitions target Walmart, Kohl’s and Sears.

Walmart employees have planned Black Friday walk-outs, which stem from ongoing labor disputes and strikes. Occupy Greeley is planning to protest Walmart, 3103 S. 23rd Ave., from 9:45 a.m. to noon Friday to show support for employees.

Deron Feist, a manager at Target in Greeley, said he couldn’t comment about the corporation’s decision to open on Thanksgiving. Target’s corporate media office did not respond Tuesday to a request for comment.

The company posted a statement online, saying, “We recognize that our opening time has required many of our team members to adjust their family schedules and we thank them.” The company says all employees will receive additional pay for working on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

While local shoppers have voiced concern for employees, it’s no surprise that those corporations have decided to open doors earlier in hopes of boosting sales. Holiday sales make up 40 percent of many companies’ annual revenue.

“With the economy the way it is, I’m sure companies have to capitalize as much as they can,” Reynolds said. “If customers are coming out and the stores are full, I can see why managers would want the stores open.”

Whitney Phillips is a staff writer with The Greeley (Colo.) Tribune, a sister paper of The Union.

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