For the past month, I have seen more Facebook and blog posts than I can count about why we should boycott stores that are open on Thanksgiving. People are outraged that these stores have the audacity to be open on a holiday and depriving the workers of their valuable family time. Well, let me let you in on a little secret. Shopping on Black Friday is just as bad for family time, and here’s why.
First, let me start off by saying that I’ve worked Black Friday. At Best Buy. More than once. I’ve also worked on Thanksgiving at a video store and my Mom had to bring me dinner at work (think about that if you’re planning to rent a movie). And guess what? When you have to be at work at 2 am (or 9 pm for a midnight opening), your Thanksgiving is disrupted. If you live more than a couple of hours away, you can forget going home for the holiday because you have to work a 14 hour shift the next day. If you live nearby, you can also forget spending time with your family because you have to take sleeping pills to get a few hours of sleep (yes, this happens) starting at 5 pm so that you can work your 14 hour shift the next day. Forget putting your kids to bed. Forget driving home to see your parents or grandparents. Forget quality time. If you’re working Black Friday, Thanksgiving is already either non-existent or severely unpleasant because you know you have to wake up at midnight to cater to the masses who literally die getting in the doors of your store.
So instead of posting clever photos about boycotting stores on Thanksgiving while simultaneously standing on a soapbox proclaiming, “I won’t shop on Thanksgiving, I’ll wait until Black Friday,” let’s talk about what the reality behind the hype. Unless you’ve worked retail, you probably don’t realize that whether you shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, the impact on the employees is more or less the same. Family time is still disrupted and seeing family more than an hour away is almost impossible. Getting in line at 3 am doesn’t do the employees any favors.
So while there’s nothing wrong with shopping on Black Friday, at least be aware of the impact that your actions have on employees and take responsibility. And in case you were wondering, I’m not shopping on either day.
Side note: Best Buy treated us really well, so this has nothing to do with them. If I had to work for someone on Black Friday, I’m glad it was them because I’ve heard some real horror stories about other companies!