With Thanksgiving drawing closer, a mere nine days away, the time has come to begin that most personal, solemn and introspective examination of … shopping.
Yes, shopping. Which, we are dismayed to report, has become synonymous with the holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. What once was the sole purview of turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie and . . . well, you get the idea . . . now also includes shopping for Christmas gifts. Many national chains, trying to get a jump on Black Friday — as the day after Thanksgiving has come to be known — are planning to open their stores on the holiday.
This, apparently, is big news. Consider the recent national headlines we unearthed with painstaking and laborious research. Well, either that or about 10 seconds on the Internet:
• "Thanksgiving's nearly here — so is your Christmas shopping done?"
• "Late Thanksgiving impacts holiday shopping trends."
• "Black Friday shoppers are to blame for ruining Thanksgiving."
• "Thanksgiving shopping controversy goes viral."
• "Holiday Help: Thanksgiving Shopping Tips."
That last one, actually, was about how to buy the proper turkey; some things, such as food, have remained unchanged when it comes to Thanksgiving. But others have been altered, and those changes often are a reflection of a pervasive societal quest for 24/7 gratification. If you absolutely must have a new laptop at 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, then, by gum, you should be able to go get one. Consider Macy's, which is breaking a 155-year-old tradition of being closed on Thanksgiving; most outlets will be open from 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night until 10 p.m. Friday. Or consider Best Buy Stores, which will be open from 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. Friday. Many other outlets will follow similar schedules.
This has created much consternation among some people, namely the well-reasoned folks who A) believe that Thanksgiving should be spent with family; B) see no need to shop on Thanksgiving; C) wish others didn't have to work on Thanksgiving; or D) wish they themselves didn't have to work on Thanksgiving (for the record, The Columbian will be published on Thanksgiving by its talented and dedicated employees, just as it is every other day). All of this has led to some pushback from consumers. Online campaigns are asking people to pledge that they won't shop on the holiday, and much criticism has been hurled at the shops that plan to be open.
"The biggest piece of bull is that consumers are asking for this," Darrin Duber-Smith, marketing professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, told the Chicago Tribune. Or, as retail consultant Bill Martin said, "We don't think it's the consumer saying, 'Open up earlier, open up more.' We think it's really the retailers trying to get at the wallet and pull them into the store — to get to the money before it's all spent."
Whatever the reasoning, we have a strong suspicion that Thanksgiving Day shopping will be a rousing success, and that more stores will be open for even more hours next year. And that, in a couple years, holiday sales starting the weekend before Thanksgiving will be the norm.
Sigh! Sad, but probably true. And when that happens, it will be time for some personal, solemn and introspective examination.