Black Friday on Thursday

It seems that the Christmas season starts earlier every year, with store shelves decked with tinsel from the first day of November, and the TV ads and mail-order catalogs even earlier. The growing commercialism of the holidays is inevitable, but there is a trend we would like to move away from.

Is there really any need to move the notorious Black Friday sales up to Thanksgiving Day?

This year, more big retailers have announced that they will open their doors this Thursday so their customers can take advantage of extraordinary bargains just as they begin to digest their holiday feast. Kmart will even open at 6 a.m. on Thursday and will not close until 11 p.m. on Friday—a 41-hour marathon of nonstop sales that could become the new mark to beat.

Retailers who open on Thursday insist that they are only giving their customers what they want. According to analysts, a notable increase in internet sales on Thanksgiving Day could signal a growing appetite among American consumers for the mall rather than turkey.

Retailers claim that the fact that Thanksgiving falls so late in the month leaves them with a shopping season four days shorter than last year.

But some groups resent how this sales pattern robs a growing number of workers the chance to spend time with their families on that day. While Thursday may represent additional revenue-generating hours, many workers earn minimum wage without benefits and would prefer the day off.

Of course retailers are perfectly entitled to maximize their sales, and we recognize that they are one of the sectors most seriously hurt by the weak economy. But we regret the fact that we are giving ever less importance to such a uniquely American holiday that is so easily adopted by immigrants and tends to bring the nation together. That, for us, is priceless.