Happy Black Thursday! Gobble gobble!!!
Every year, stores are opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving so that consumers can get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping. A few years ago, it was first thing Friday morning. Then it was before-the-sun-came-out Friday morning. Then it was middle-of-the-night Thursday.
Now it's wolf down Thanksgiving grub and head to the mall. Don't even think about digesting!
Target is planning to open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, while Wal-Mart, Sears and Toys R Us will open at 8 p.m. And K-Mart will begin offering discounts usually reserved for Black Friday at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving. K-Mart will sell high-definition plasma TVs for $199.99. So much for turkey and stuffing.
I get it. Holiday sales comprise about 40 percent of retailer's annual revenue. And people love to shop on Black Friday. Nearly one-fourth of consumers who shopped during that holiday weekend were at stores midnight on Black Friday, according to the National Retail Federation. Retailers figure, why wait for Friday? Retailers are racing to beat their competitors by opening earlier and earlier.
Americans are shoppers. It is the national pastime. It has usurped football, baseball, soccer, picnics and barbecues. Isn't it telling that the holiday that once defined America is being ousted in favor of high-definition televisions, iPads, iPhones, iPods? If this trend continues, in a few years there will be no Thanksgiving at all. Thanksgiving will be known as Shopping Day.
When I was a child, Thanksgiving was sacred. The shopping districts were ghost towns while everyone celebrated this holiday with friends and family. No one even imagined shopping. If you ran out of cranberry sauce, you couldn't even drive over to the local supermarket. Every retailer was closed. No question.
Thanksgiving had one image: A family giving thanks over a stuffed, roasted turkey in a warmly lit dining room. But that image is quickly being replaced by a stuffed shopping cart in a fluorescent-lit mall.
People and news venues have started referring to Thanksgiving as Black Thursday, which is ironic, considering that was the name for the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the country. A crash born out of greed.
The only reason retailers are opening on this black Thursday is because they know consumers will come. But what if we didn't? What if instead of shopping, we enjoyed a relaxing Thanksgiving? What if instead of rushing to shop, we rushed to homeless shelters to donate food and clothing? What if instead of making a list of things to buy, we made a list of things to be thankful for? What if instead of buying for ourselves (because, who are we kidding, that high def TV isn't really a gift for someone, is it?) we gave to those less fortunate?
We can shop every single day of the year, but let's bring back Thanksgiving.