The once family-first holiday is about to get even blurrier.
We’re not talking weather conditions like morning fog nor afternoon haze. We make no allusion to cold fronts, low fronts, high fronts nor rain fronts. Given the inevitable encroachment of Black Friday on all things turkey, we’re talking people fronts and plenty of them.
Those days of yore when retail doors were unlocked two hours early on the day after Thanksgiving — by about 8 a.m. and maybe even 7 — in order to give Christmas shoppers a jump on the spending season, have long since given way to a retail evolution: 6 a.m., then 5 a.m., then 4, 3 ... and 2012 welcomed record doorbusters that lured wide-eyed patrons into storming the gates by midnight.
By then, the Detroit Lions’ latest loss on TV was but a few hours old. And the final raids on the leftover pumpkin pie had yet to be launched.
In 2013, consumers will be chomping at their bits even earlier ... and probably before the final burp from Mom’s late-afternoon Thanksgiving spread on Thursday.
Word is some retailers plan to open by 8 o’clock on Thanksgiving night. That’s four full hours before Black Friday even gets underway! Poor Black Friday, we knew thee well.
Some might even open earlier. Some stores might not even close tonight!
OK. OK. Maybe we’re a little over the top on this retail incursion into what once was a time of family togetherness. Maybe we’re being a little too facetious about this retailing phenomenon. Truth is, some don’t see the humor in it at all. But others? Well, they can’t wait to answer the bell to shopping paradise. In their eyes, kick up the Thanksgiving meal to noon, leave the dirty dishes, forget the forgettable Lions, grab the car keys, dust off the credit cards and set sail for the crowded parking lots at Discounts R Us.
To each his own. In the end, it’s an individual choice. Stores have the option of opening or staying closed. Holiday revelers have the choice of shopping or staying home.
In a day gone by, retailers pondered the future of opening on Sunday afternoons. Many cringed at the thought. Eventually, the era of blue laws turned green and American commercialism spread its engulfing wings.
Over time, Black Friday has challenged the sanctity of the year’s most family-friendly holiday. But judging from the surveys, most shoppers seem to love the day after Thanksgiving. It gives them a head start on Christmas and it affords its own level of family time. After all, some families do shop together. And the retailers? They believe they’re merely giving the public what it wants.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the Black Friday incursion onto Thanksgiving Day is not really the point. The point is it’s happening and we see no evidence to indicate a reverse in trends.
According to an Associated Press news article posted Nov. 13, and we quote directly from the pen of New York correspondent Anne D’Innocenzio, “Now Thanksgiving is slowly becoming just another shopping day. Over the past few years, major retailers ... slowly have pushed opening times into Thanksgiving night to one-up each other and compete for holiday dollars. Some initially resisted, saying that they wanted their employees to be able to spend time with their families.”
But fiscal reality is apparently winning the day.
Now, other stores are joining the turkey trot and the list keeps growing. Many who aren’t opening their doors earlier are likely staying abreast of public reaction toward those who do. Like any marketing strategy, future decisions will be based on supply and demand, actions by competitors and the bottom line in business ... otherwise known as profit margin. In Darwinian terms, it would be called survival of the fittest.
To keep Thanksgiving Day sacred, some will boycott this latest craze altogether. But others are idling their engines. And still others are already backing out the driveway.
Whether anyone reads further into this plea to save Thanksgiving is a personal choice. But for those who do, and especially for those who do not, we will quote from our own editorial published Nov. 24, 2011. It reads:
“In our quest for the early Christmas deal, let us not forget the cherished and calming moments that a family Thanksgiving can bring.
“Toys, electronic games, clothing and computer accessories will line store shelves until Christmas Day, and well beyond.
“But Thanksgiving comes only one day each year.
“May we never neglect its endearing love.
“May we always remember its purity within.”
It sounded pretty good then. Nothing has changed in two years since.
In our view, Thanksgiving is worth saving ... because when it is gone, it could be gone forever.
And as Thanksgiving goes, we fear will go the very meaning of the word itself.