Whenever I hear the word “tradition,” I think of my all-time favorite musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”
As Tevye might point out, tradition helps to preserve cultures as well as keep families close. Tradition’s a good thing.
However, with all due respect to Tevye and ritualists everywhere, traditions are relative. Your tradition is not necessarily my tradition and vice versa.
I was recently reminded of the ambiguity of tradition after retailers announced plans to open stores earlier than ever for Black Friday--the year’s biggest shopping day. Some retail chains didn’t even wait until Friday as Toys ’R Us opened at 9 p.m. following Thanksgiving dinner. Walmart stores let in the crowds at 10; Macy’s, Target, Best Buy and Kohl’s opened at midnight.
The media had a field day with stories lambasting retailer plans to open doors on Thanksgiving night. This will obliterate Thanksgiving tradition, bellowed irate critics. Think of the tradition!
As much as I respect tradition, I think all of the concern over the early Thanksgiving shopping hours is pointedly misguided. Frankly, I say ‘hurray’ for the new Thanksgiving shopping hours.
If nothing else, the advent of Black Thursday may halt the sad tradition of shoppers fighting to get a bargain before sunrise Friday morning. Shopping on Thanksgiving has to be an improvement over folks sleeping in their cars in the store parking lot.
Early Thanksgiving hours are a win-win situation for everyone involved, except for store employees—but retailers don’t base store strategies on employee wants and desires. Because of holiday deadlines, I’m writing this story before Thanksgiving, but I’m willing to bet a turkey sandwich (with cranberry sauce) that this strategy will be a huge success.
Thanksgiving shopping was a big part of my family’s holiday tradition in southern Appalachia in the 1970s. Of course there was turkey, the football game (hopefully the Dallas Cowboys were playing), followed by a trip to the local discounter Magic Mart, where I’d tell Santa what I wanted for Christmas.
Why did it take other retailers so long to realize this is a good idea? It reminds me of the archaic blue laws from not-so-long ago. If shoppers want to shop on Thanksgiving, then why shouldn’t stores be open?
The National Retail Federation expects 152 million shoppers to hit the stores on Thanksgiving weekend, up from 138 million last year. Online shopping is expected to continue to grow in popularity. Shoppers are expected to increasingly look toward social media for bargains.
Still, most forecasters are predicting that holiday sales will be flat again this year.
Now that’s a tradition I can do without.