Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

November 22, 2012

Another View: Consumers dictated the early shopping start time

Thanksgiving is still one of the few American holidays that commercialism has not managed to exploit to a great extent. If only it could stay that way. But as long as Americans want a good deal, retailers will find a way to entice them from the table and out to their stores.

Consequently, Black Friday sales now start on Thursday.

Is that a bad thing? The answer depends on who you ask.

A lot of people, including store employees and the families of those employees, might prefer to have the holiday off to spend with loved ones.

But a good number of bargain hunters would rather head out early to score a Christmas deal than get up early and brave the crowds on Friday morning. That's why last year major retailers such as Walmart and Toys-R-Us decided to open at 10 p.m. (on Thanksgiving Day). Macy's, Kohl's, Old Navy and Target followed suit, opening their doors at midnight.

Smart retailers give their customers what they want. And this is what their customers want.

We can understand why some people are complaining that stores are ruining one holiday to kick-start sales for another, but the fact remains that retailers are in business to make money.

Last year they did. Over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, the retail industry posted record sales of $52 billion.

In a slumping economy, it's hard to argue with numbers such as those. The people have spoken using their pocketbooks.

What's more, not everyone celebrates the holiday in Norman Rockwell fashion with multiple generations of family gathered around a table heaped with food and then, afterward, spending quality time together at home.

Some families' Thanksgiving traditions include a road trip to Ford Field to watch the Detroit Lions play football, or pushing away from the table only to take in a movie at the local theater.

So, is it any less acceptable that now, once the turkey has been eaten and the pumpkin pie served, folks are piling into their cars, advertising circulars in hand, and heading to the nearest mall?

Ultimately, it's up to individuals to decide how to spend their Thanksgivings. And as long as consumers would rather stand in long lines to score a good deal on a flat screen TV than have a second slice of pumpkin pie, retailers should open their doors to accommodate them.

-- The Flint Journal

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