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Thanksgiving is for giving thanks, not shopping

T. Opinion

Thanksgiving, as a thoroughly American tradition, is supposed to be a holiday where we spend time being thankful for what we have with the people we love the most. Then we rush out that night, in thoroughly American fashion, to buy things we often don’t need.

On this day after Thanksgiving, stores open as early as 5 a.m., often drawing lines of people who wait for hours on end to get a chance to nab a good deal. In recent years, however, some stores have begun to open their doors even earlier, even on Thanksgiving itself. This is ruining the very meaning of the holiday.

Black Friday, though not a holiday by any legal definition, is as much of a tradition in America as Thanksgiving itself. And it is an extremely profitable one for retailers, who can add a sizable amount of cash to their annual net profit just on this one day.

In 2012, Black Friday weekend sales were estimated to be nearly $60 billion, according to a Fox Business report.

Now as lucrative as this sounds, we have always been a country deeply embedded in our values. Sacrificing the meaning of a holiday that is as American as any other for a quick buck seems to go against these values.

Opening on Thanksgiving requires employees to staff the stores. Employees who, much like the rest of us, have family, friends and loved ones they should be spending time with rather than working.

For a lot of Americans, Thanksgiving is the only time a year where they get to visit family members who they would normally not see. And this new Black Friday on Thanksgiving trend is forcing them to choose between spending time with their family and being able to get a good deal on their gifts for Christmas.

When did saving or making money become more morally sound than being with the ones we care about?

Companies have a responsibility to take care of their employees. Retailers should place more importance on the well-being of its employees if they want to keep a professionally-run shop. Seeing family members does not just benefit workers; it’s a morale boost for them as well.

Opening on Thanksgiving also paints a company in a negative light in the eyes of many Americans. There have been numerous boycotts of stores that open on Thanksgiving day; boycotts cannot be good for business.

There are other repercussions as well. For example, a recent study has shown that retailers who open on Thanksgiving have lackluster sales on Black Friday weekend itself, according to an article in Business Insider.

The culture of want and need tends to burgeon on Black Friday. People fight over televisions and video game consoles, customers are trampled and some unfortunate few actually get killed. As sentimental as it may seem, this consumer-driven anarchy does not belong on a day where we are meant to give thanks.

Black Friday is certainly a reasonable time to start the Christmas shopping season; Thanksgiving day is not. Let’s try to keep it that way.

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Thanksgiving is for giving thanks, not shopping