Black Friday: Worker’s Point of View

by on September 4th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | On Monday this week Target Corp. received a petition against this year’s “Black Friday” hours beginning on Thanksgiving at midnight. This move from a 3 or 4 a.m. opening to midnight is reportedly due to the requests of many of Target Corp.’s customers, and it is hoped, will boost this quarter’s sales. But for a company that stresses family values it is also ripping into its employees’ ability to enjoy the family gatherings that come with the holiday season.

I survived many holiday shopping seasons over the years. Fought off insanity caused by the repeating holiday music piped in over the speakers for weeks at a time. Found ways to cope with hordes racing through the isles to reach their desired item of choice. I was lucky enough to work for a company that allowed the employees to have a say in the hours they worked. Each of us always had the chance to spend time with our families. On “Black Friday” we expanded our hours, but not so much that the employees were unable to relish in the season.

Target’s opening at midnight might not be an inconvenience to those who shop there, but for the breadwinners employed by the store who put in their 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, it is a bit much to take. Those three or four hours extra allowed for things such as sleep to prepare for the busiest shopping day of the year, and time to travel to family who may not live near enough to visit except for holidays. For some, those few hours of extra sale’s time which benefits Target will mean missing out on Thanksgiving altogether.

While putting a petition together may finally give a voice to those who are being robbed of their holidays, I doubt Target Corp., or any other retailer for that matter, is concerned by a petition. In this economy the chances of the workers not showing up on “Black Friday” are slim if their job will be in jeopardy. With the Christmas shopping those employees are also trying to complete it means that they need every hour of work they can get. But does it also mean that they should be forced to choose between family and work on a day set aside to give thanks? When Shopping this Friday, know that the staff serving you are giving up their little bit of family time so that a retailer can have a 3 percent boost in this quarter’s sales. Then ask yourself if it’s really worth it for an extra three hours of shopping time.


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