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St. James Plaindealer - St. James, MN
  • What a Difference a Day Makes

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  • For the seventh year in a row, I braved the crowds to go out shopping Black Friday; I'm a bit of a diva, so I actually enjoy shopping, although, to be fair, I'm usually shopping for myself--and it's always more fun to shop for yourself than others. Nevertheless, Black Friday shopping has evolved into a tradition for my mother and I, and I'm hardly alone. According to the National Retail Foundation, those ages 18-34 shopped the most this weekend. As Mikael Thygese told USA Today Monday, “The social shopping aspect was in full force. Families were sort of extending their family time together by coming out to the mall.” Though I always seem to find a few quality deals--and this year was no exception, as I managed to procure a charcoal-and-white, Tommy Hilfiger, long-sleeve sweater from Macy's, two black-and-white striped ties, and a unique scarf from H &M all for well under $100--I go less for the shopping and more for the adventure. For me, embracing the pandemonium is an excellent way to launch into the frenzied holiday season. However, I'm not one who arrives at stores in the wee hours of the morning--my mother and I usually show up at shops between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.--and, unlike many others, I usually don't have a specific list of targets for which I'm hunting. And this brings me to my main point; in recent years, stores have begun to encroach ever further into Thanksgiving Day. It's now reached a level where nearly all retailers are open for business on the holiday, and they keep creeping earlier and earlier into that evening. Now, I have no problem with people who want to shop on Thanksgiving; not all of us have Rockwellian family holidays, and some of us would rather be anywhere else than stuck in a small space with relatives. That's a personal choice. However, employees of those businesses have no choice, and they may very well want to spend as much time with their families as possible. What about the person whose family lives far away, who only gets to see relatives a few times per year on holidays? Why should they have that precious time cut short? Because there's too much money to be made for major outlets to worry about any moral responsibility. It's ruthless capitalism at its most cutthroat, and it would make “There Will Be Blood's” avaricious oil tycoon Daniel Plainview proud. Thanksgiving traffic in stores grew 27 percent this year as nearly one-third of shoppers headed to stores on the holiday, according to the National Retail Federation, and--according to Shopper-Trak--Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined brought in over $12 billion in sales, so the horse has left the barn. Once one store planted the flag on Thanksgiving, the floodgates were opened. But, could they still be closed again? With online shopping exploding in popularity, do traditional brick-and-mortar stores really need to be open on the holiday? If people want deals, can't they just find them on the web? After all, multiple analytics noted online sales on Cyber Monday were up between 17-19 percent from last year. People clearly aren't averse to online shopping; many even prefer it. Perhaps that's the best solution. As we know, many people already spend most of their time with their heads buried in mobile devices, especially when the alternative is having to converse with family. Encouraging people to seek deals online on Thanksgiving could end the need to haul employees away from their families and in to work.

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