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Rest in Peace (Literally), Thanksgiving Day Shopping

Words by Leon Kaye
Thanksgiving

Those disturbing viral videos of people getting trampled in big box store stampedes on Thanksgiving night aren’t the only reason many of us prefer to stay home that day and avoid the Black Friday madness altogether. If you ever had to get up at 2 a.m. on Black Friday morning or cut a Thanksgiving Day gathering short because of that weekend’s demands on retail workers, you would understand why anyone with a smidgen of a conscience would rather not walk through any large store's sliding glass doors that day or at all that weekend.

It turns out that very soon, store hours on Thanksgiving Day will soon become a distant memory. According to the Associated Press, Target won’t be open at all that day or night — for good.

“What started as a temporary measure driven by the pandemic is now our new standard — one that recognizes our ability to deliver on our guests’ holiday wishes both within and well beyond store hours,” Target CEO Brian Cornell wrote in a note obtained by the AP. “You don’t have to wonder whether this is the last Thanksgiving you’ll spend with family and friends for a while, because Thanksgiving store hours are one thing we won’t ‘get back to’ when the pandemic finally subsides.”

While Cornell’s note may come across as if it had been written with compassion toward what retail workers endure each holiday season, current economic realities are what dictates this latest shopping trend. Many retailers stayed closed during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday in a move to “stop the spread” of COVID-19, and Americans’ continued shift to online shopping also makes shopping on a family holiday more of a relic than a necessary reality for these companies’ bottom line. Add the fact that many retail workers have been fed up with how they’ve been treated on the job, thereby becoming a driving force in the “Great Resignation,” this announcement is also a face-saving measure on behalf of any retailer deciding to give its employees during this year’s holiday.

Nevertheless, credit Target with being the first nationwide large retailer to end any store hours on Thanksgiving Day. Macy’s is one retailer that will also shutter its stores this Thursday, though some of its locations will still offer curbside pickup. Kohl’s and Walmart locations will also stay dark on Thanksgiving, though according to the AP they haven’t yet committed to making this policy change permanent. Don’t be surprised, however, if more retail chains follow suit as when one makes a drastic, headline-generating change, others will follow.

Retailers have been offering bonuses and benefits such as health insurance and 401(k) contributions in the rush to staff up Many potential employees, however, have been unmoved, even though federal pandemic benefits expired earlier this month. More people are putting their health and sanity first, even if at first it means less spare income. “I think, overall, people are really shifting their priorities,” Sara Gordon of the temporary staffing company Adecco told NBC News in September. “Flexibility and the ability to acknowledge that life happens and life is happening in a very unpredictable world really packages employee mental and physical health as a priority and value proposition.”

Image credit: Ashkan Forouzani via Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked and lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

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