Three years ago, I wrote about the problem of retail stores being open for business on Thanksgiving. It is posted in full below. As one might expect, Sears continues to open on Thanksgiving and has been joined by many other businesses trying to profit from those who can’t resist getting a jump on so-called Black Friday. Fortunately, many Americans agree that this is probably a bad idea.
A Huffington Post poll found that “62 percent of Americans think businesses should close on Thanksgiving so workers can have the day off.” I also found this finding heartening: “few personally plan to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day, according to the new poll — only 7 percent said that they would be shopping that day, while 80 percent said they would not. The rest weren’t sure.”
[Not sure what to make of this other result: According to the study, "only 27 percent said that they think stores should feel free to stay open if there is demand for it." It isn't clear what this means given the likely poor wording of the original poll question -- What does it mean "to feel free to stay open"? Does that imply blue laws? Or that they shouldn't feel free because of public disapproval?]
As I explain below, I think businesses should be legally free to open on Thanksgiving. And yet we should not only avoid shopping on those days but give those businesses and Turkey day shoppers our disapprobation. Blue laws are not the answer. Too many Americans want to politicize their tastes and moral views as it is. Let’s not forget that there are other modes of social change available to us!
So in that spirit, I want to personally give a thumbs-down to the following businesses open most of the day tomorrow (and I’m going to try to find alternatives to them when I do shop, which won’t be difficult):
Many other businesses will also open tomorrow but just later in the afternoon or evening. I fear they’ll creep into the earlier hours eventually….unless we vote with our feet and stay out of the marketplace when they do.
And kudos to the following businesses for staying closed:
The Kittery Trading Post (whose vice president, Fox Keim, said that he was staying closed due to the store’s “core values”)
BJ’s Wholesale Club
And to many others remaining closed for the holiday.
Good Reason to Avoid Sears on Thanksgiving
November 12, 2010 by Grover Cleveland
Sears is apparently going to be open on Thanksgiving for the first time in its long 85 year history of operating retail stores. Other similar retail stores have been open on Thanksgiving for some time, including K-Mart.
I’m glad that Sears has the legal right to be open on Thanksgiving or any other day it chooses – which hasn’t always been the case in many places given the existence of “Blue Laws.”
However, I think a good argument can be made that we should avoid such stores on certain days and even express some disapprobation for those who make the choice to shop on particular holidays. When we frequent stores on holidays, we provide an incentive for stores to remain open on those days in the future. What that means is that many employees will have to work while preferring to be home celebrating the holiday with their families (or being incentivized to prefer work over family by the time and a half or double time pay they might receive). I’m sure many stores essentially poll their workers to see who wants to work on holidays and who does not (and I accept that everyone may not have my – I think common – preference to spend time with family and observe certain meaningful rituals), therefore, it may not be as bad in practice as it might be in theory. However, normalizing days like Thanksgiving will tend to undermine the ability of people to say no as these days become, like Sunday, just another date on the calendar during which King Commerce will rule.
We shouldn’t confuse more choices with a better world despite what the “choicatarian” wing of the libertarian movement thinks. Some options are best left, like the nasty Thanksgiving cranberry in a can, on the side of the plate and uneaten. Of course, I’m generally not opposed to greater choices and usually think those who get upset at cereal aisles full of options are pretty silly. But let’s not assume that “markets in everything” automatically translates into human flourishing and that satisfying all individual preferences should be celebrated even if it should be legal to do so.
Given its policy of not being open on Sundays to give employees time for “family, worship, fellowship or rest,” it is unsurprising that Chick-fil-a will not be open on Thanksgiving. Glad to see that I can’t satisfy any desire for a chicken sandwich after a long game of football with my kids…since this might mean others won’t be able to play football with theirs. But I’ll certainly continue to frequent Chick-fil-a on those other days, especially given its proper appreciation of the non-economic needs and preferences of its employees.