Don’t Be Jerks: Let Retail Stores Close on Thanksgiving

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In a lot of places Black Friday and the hours leading up to it has become as commonplace as Thanksgiving itself. After stuffing themselves on turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing, whole families crowd into the car to go wait out in the freezing cold (if you live anywhere in the North) and then fight over discounted TVs until the sun comes up. Black Friday has been starting earlier and earlier, but finally, some retailers are putting their feet down. There is an increasing number of companies that say they’re not going to open Thanksgiving night, or at the very least, late on Thanksgiving night.

The growing list of stores that aren’t going to open Thanksgiving night include Costco, Nordstrom, Patagonia, Dillard’s, Barnes & Noble, Bed Bath and Beyond, DSW, Gamestop, Hobby Lobby, and TJ Maxx. Other stores are using a different approach–Best Buy is going to open at 5:00pm, as opposed to 6:00pm last year, but then will close earlier so that employees can go home and get some sleep.

Others big retailers are planning on opening Thanksgiving night, or even earlier. Radio Shack, for example, has explained that three thousand of its stores will open at 8:00am on Thanksgiving Day.

The idea that some may close has thrown shopping centers into near-panic. Walden Gallaria, near Buffalo, New York, announced that any stores that don’t open when the mall does at 6:00pm will be fined. There’s no indication how much the fine will be, but apparently it’s enough that some smaller retailers have changed their plans and will be operating on Thanksgiving. Shaun Deutsch, who manages the small Tee Shirt University store, said:

We’re just stuck following the rules, because if we didn’t, we’d be fined by the mall and being a small company, that’s substantial to us. We can’t just pay that. We have to stay open. It’s been a lot different this year trying to find people to work. It’s not been easy. I’ve been forced to schedule myself because I can’t find anyone else, really, to help me out.

The idea that stores would be forced to open on Thanksgiving doesn’t sit very well with me, whether it be a small mom-and-pop shop, or big-box retailers. I applaud the stores that are taking steps to make sure that their employees don’t have to come in too early or at all.

What’s important to remember is that being open on Thanksgiving disproportionately affects certain parts of the population–minimum wage workers, young people, the lower class. Here’s an infographic from Demos that shows the demographics of the retail work force, with a particular focus on the low-wage earning segment.

Courtesy of Demos.

Many of the people who work retail could very much use a vacation–especially near the holiday season. As hours get longer and customers angrier, many of these workers may not see a day off until Christmas; and it’s almost certain that they don’t have the advantage of paid time off. For some, going in on Thanksgiving may be the difference between keeping and losing their job. All because some of us can’t wait to go get that gigantic flat screen.

Certain things–hospitals, police stations, gas stations–obviously need to be open on Thanksgiving. Retail stores simply don’t.


Anneliese Mahoney
Anneliese Mahoney is Managing Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at



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