It’s become the standard, yearly routine. Summer ends, children go back to school and we buy costumes and carve pumpkins for Halloween. Then it’s on to Christmas, decorating the tree and lots of holiday shopping. But wait – What happened to Thanksgiving?
It seems like any Thanksgiving celebration is now overshadowed by radio stations beginning to play Christmas carols months in advance, Starbucks introducing red holiday cups on November 1 and stores decking the halls in October. And, if Black Friday wasn’t enough of a shopper’s paradise, the biggest shopping day of the year has been extended beyond just Cyber Monday and now includes deals and steals on Thanksgiving Day! Are people really enjoying the holidays anymore or are they already moving on to the next celebration? Do consumers want to forgo their Thanksgiving holiday to shop?
Many retailers seem to think (and hope) so. Stores that extended their hours last year saw an average increase in sales of 22 percent, according to chief retail analyst at NPD Group, Marshal Cohen. Therefore, Walmart, Sears and Toys “R” Us are all opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day at 8:00 p.m. to capture extra holiday sales, and Target will be opening at 9:00 p.m.
Personally I am inclined to disagree with the retailers and side with a group of Target employees who started an online petition to dissuade the company from opening on Thanksgiving. There were over 200,000 signatures as of November 14, but this might not be enough. Last year, Target also opened on Thanksgiving Day despite an employee petition that garnered more than 200,000 signatures, so we’ll see what happens.
It’s easy to see both sides. In a tough economy, stores are going to great lengths to drive sales, and consumers are looking for extreme discounts. However, for many people like me, it seems like retailers are dictating when and what we celebrate. Thanksgiving is off the calendar because it doesn’t generate the sales volume of the candy and costumes at Halloween or the clothes and electronics at Christmas. Every holiday begins a month or more in advance, and retailers insist we line up before stores opens at midnight before a given holiday in order to grab the greatest deal of the year.
What happened to celebrating all of the blessings in our lives and taking time to recognize everything we are thankful for during the year? Is this slowly being replaced with shopping stampedes through warehouse stores to nab a big screen TV? Are turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie promotions not enough retail for a holiday?
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, in its 86th year, is one of few remaining Thanksgiving celebrations. As a kid growing up in New York, I didn’t even consider Christmas until Santa steered down Broadway. I worry that even a retail-sponsored parade will eventually fall by the wayside. Retail opening hours are earlier each year, each holiday, and it’s likely that these openings could deter people from sitting home to watch the parade in order to hit the latest sales. Would Macy’s join in the madness and adjust the parade route or close it down all together in order to bring in more customers?
I hope not. Retail deals are definitely not a bad thing, and I understand stores capitalizing on various holidays with their marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, these tactics don’t encourage an appreciation of the here and now or the traditions that come with the holiday season.
This Thanksgiving, take a moment to appreciate family and friends, watch the parade and football games and enjoy a delicious meal. There will always be another sale, but holiday celebrations come and go quicker than the next retail markdown.