Is Thanksgiving worth saving?

If Thanksgiving is going to be just another day to go shopping, do we really need to have it off from work anymore?

Of course, it’s not as though America was sitting around actually giving thanks. We ate, drank, and watched football. And we can still do all of that because the stores aren’t opening for Christmas shopping until the evening. Southdale Center, for example, will open at 8 p.m., stay open all night and finally close Friday night at 11 p.m.

“Do we really need to go shopping on a day that should be set aside to acknowledge the things we are thankful for — family, friends — on this day do we truly need to go and get more?” an employee of a store in the mall told me in an email today.

Who’s to blame for — as Time puts it — “ruining the holiday?”

The employee blames the malls more than the individual stores.

But this, Time’s Brad Tuttle writes, is misplaced. It’s not them. It’s us:

It’s convenient for retailers to subtly, delicately pass the blame for the “death of Thanksgiving” onto shoppers. Such an explanation might seem underhanded if it weren’t largely true.

The truth is that stores wouldn’t be open if it wasn’t in their best business interest, just as stores wouldn’t launch holiday-season deals in September if shoppers didn’t have an appetite for it.

Stores don’t need all consumers, or even a majority, to like the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving as a justification to open early. All they need is a sizable number of fanatical shoppers, and clearly, that’s covered.

The results of a new American Express survey indicate that more consumers want to do their holiday shopping earlier — 27% said they’ll be done by Dec. 1, compared with 24% last year. Consumers are also becoming more comfortable with the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving, if not in person, than certainly online; e-mail inboxes are sure to be flooded with special offers on the morning of Turkey Day because retailers know nearly everyone has the day off.

There’s one state where this isn’t an issue. Massachusetts bans shopping on Thanksgiving, a throwback to the famous “blue laws,” inspired in the 1600s by religion and morality. The laws were repealed to allow Sunday openings, but the Thanksgiving ban is still in effect.

A Facebook group has sprouted to oppose the idea of Thanksgiving shopping…


Formed after Macy’s and Kohl’s announced they would join the crowd opening early, the Facebook group has only 14,000 “likes.” That’s not a lot as Facebook groups go.

“I hope the workers decide not to show up. The manager who opens the stores ( though a sacrificial lamb) will have to figure out how to run a cash register since they won’t know how,” a group member noted.

That was an issue in 2011 when a Target employee tried to rally people against a Thanksgiving opening. It didn’t work, earning him a smackdown in this classic Star Tribune editorial:

Many are lacking health insurance and foregoing staples that in different times were a given.

So please, protesting retail workers, stop whining about having to work holiday hours.

Be grateful to have a job.

“This is a trend that needs to stop,” my Southdale correspondent said, “but until the companies that manage retail — from large individual retailers like Wallmart to the mall management companies like Simon (the company that owns Southdale and other malls in the area) stop seeing a reason (beyond ‘the other guys are doing it, so we need to as well!’), the trend will continue.”

And if it does, why don’t we all just go to work too?