It's becoming an annual showdown: Major U.S. retailers opening earlier and earlier for Black Friday shopping and some employees, customers and religious leaders protesting the trend.
The latest skirmish over Black Friday creep into Thanksgiving unfolded this afternoon (Monday) when a Target employee delivered more than 350,000 signatures from her Change.org petition to the company’s Minneapolis headquarters. The petitions are asking Target to reverse its decision to open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving night, according to Change.org.
The employee, Casey St. Clair, along with several local Target customers and religious leaders, carried boxes of petition signatures to the office of Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel.
Change.org said Target Vice President of Human Resources Tim Curoe offered this statement in response:
“The enormity of asking some of our store teams to work on Thanksgiving night is not lost on us. We recognize some team members are cutting short time with their families to work. And so, once again, to our team, and to their families and friends, we say thank you.
“And yet, we've heard from many of our team members that they are supportive of our plans, excited to get additional hours, holiday and incentive pay, and understand the need to compete.
“Hundreds of stores had more volunteers wanting to work than shifts to fill. We appreciate the enthusiasm and understanding our team members have shown as they help Target deliver an outstanding shopping experience to our guests on one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year.
“We have been talking with our teams since we announced our opening hours to make sure they are comfortable with their scheduled shifts and had plenty of opportunity to express concern. We have also adjusted team member schedules if necessary. All team members working on Thanksgiving and certain hours on Friday will receive additional pay. And we're taking extra steps to make sure we help maintain our team's health and well-being throughout their shifts.”
But St. Clair questioned Curoe’s suggestion that customers want a Black Thursday opening, according to Change.org.
"The fact remains that 350,000 shoppers have signed my Change.org petition, and they're all saying the same thing: Thanksgiving should be about family, not shopping," St. Clair said in a statement.
St. Clair added that her experience as a Target worker was much different than that described by Curoe.
“Up until a few days ago, there was a sign at my Target store listing 'blackout dates' that employees couldn’t request off, and Thanksgiving was one of them," St. Clair said. "If that's not a policy mandating people work on Thanksgiving, I don't know what is. What's more, I've spoken to friends who work at Target stores in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Tennessee, and here in California, and the unanimous consensus is that no one was asked their Thanksgiving Day work preferences."
Change.org said that more than 130 petitions have been recently launched on its web site asking Target and other major retailers-including Walmart, Sears, and Kohl’s- to “save Thanksgiving” and open their doors on Friday instead of Thanksgiving Day.
Big-box merchants aren't the only ones pushing Black Friday shopping earlier and earlier. Following a growing number of shopping malls and stores, Rosedale Center in Roseville said this month that more than 55 of its merchants plan to open at midnight on Black Friday, the traditional start of the retail holiday season. (Click here to see the complete report on Roseville Patch.)
"This is the first year that we have this type of midnight opening," Liz Ostrander, Rosedale senior marketing manager, said. "Last year we had about 10 open at midnight and this year we have more participation.
"Prior to last year we’ve never opened at midnight," Ostrander said. But she added, "With Herberger’s and Macy’s kicking off the trend, our retailers followed."
Meanwhile, a full list of Black Friday-related petitions can be found here.
Live signature totals from Casey St. Clair’s campaign: http://change.org/savethanksgiving
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