Given the current controversy over stores opening on Thanksgiving, I thought I’d repost my thoughts on the issue from way back in 2010 (when we thought that the oceans would stop rising and Obama would be a one-term President).
Good Reasons to Avoid Sears on Thanksgiving
November 12, 2010
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.