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Has holiday shopping trend reversed?

November 10, 2013
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

I've never been a fan of the idea of so-called "Black Friday" shopping, the trend of rushing around in the early morning hours the day after Thanksgiving looking for some of the best shopping deals in our area stores.

Between the large crowds, the yearly stories of fights and injuries and the knowledge most of these great deals come in incredibly limited numbers, I've never had the urge to brave the cold and stand in line before making a mad rush to make a purchase.

In recent years, though, the trend has been for stores to move their opening from around 4 or 5 a.m. to midnight, and then even into Thursday evenings making more opportunity for shopping and bargain hunting.

When one store extends its hours, of course, others will follow suit. The day should probably be called Green Friday, after all, because it's all about the money and drawing more shoppers into the stores.

I'm sure serious shoppers love to have the extra time to hunt for that desired item, but it appears the growing competition may actually be starting to have the reverse effect as some customers realize the more hours they have to shop also means the employees of these stores have fewer hours to spend with their loved ones.

According to an online article posted Tuesday on CNNMoney.com, threats of a boycott had started against Kmart soon after the store announced its plans to stay open for shoppers almost all of Thanksgiving Day and continuing into Black Friday.

In previous years, the store, which is owned by Sears, had opened at 6 a.m. that Thursday, but had closed for a few hours in the afternoon and evening to allow employees to have dinner with their families. This year, the plan apparently has been to open at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving and stay in operation for a continuous 41 hours, closing something that Friday evening.

A Kmart spokesperson is quoted in the article as saying the decision was made because of feedback from customers looking for more "flexible" in-store shopping times.

Many stores are opening on Thanksgiving, but waiting until the evenings, thus allowing employees to spend most of the day at home before having to deal with the holiday rush.

But, again, ultimately the day is a big money-maker for these retail outlets, and if others see an opportunity to bring in a bigger windfall they, too, may explore the idea of further expanding their shopping hours.

I am by no means promoting the idea of boycotting any kind of business in this situation.

We should always support our business community, whether it be a nationally known department store, a locally owned small business, a restaurant or some other establishment. After all, without customers the business could fall into their own difficulties and close, which then would mean all those employees would no longer have a job.

Would that really be helping anyone?

I simply think at some point there has to be a line of some sort drawn when it comes to the early Christmas shopping trends. Are they going to continue expanding it to a full 48-hour sale? What happens when their stock of specially discounted merchandise runs out before Black Friday even begins? Will individual stores then have to figure out some special local deals or will the company create a variety of contingency plans?

For many, Black Friday shopping has become a family tradition, with parents and children, siblings, etc. getting up early and spending the day together. At some point, it is bound to become less special, and people might become less inclined to do it.

People are starting to remember Thanksgiving is a time to express our gratitude for what we have and to spend time with family. While special sales are nice to have, it is not the point of this time of year.

I doubt there truly will be a backlash or a boycott of any store as a result of extended shopping hours, because ultimately people still want to go looking for those great deals.

But perhaps it will make everyone do a little more thinking when it comes to their holiday shopping plans, whether it be the customer or the company.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

 
 

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