Target Responds to Backlash Over Thanksgiving Night Black Friday Sale

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Target Responds to Backlash Over Thanksgiving Night Black Friday SaleTarget is pushing back against complaints that its Thanksgiving evening opening is ruining employees' holiday.

The retailer announced on Monday that its Black Friday sale will start the evening before, with doors set to open at 9 p.m. Target (TGT) is one of a number of retailers kicking things off early: Walmart (WMT), Sears (SHLD), Kmart and Toys R Us will all get the bargain surge started an hour earlier, at 8 p.m.

But Target has come in for particularly harsh criticism after a petition against the early opening at online petition site Change.org went viral. Titled "Target: Take the high road and save Thanksgiving," it has been signed by more than 228,000 users as of Friday morning.

The campaign was kicked off by Change.org user "C Renee," who identifies herself as longtime Target employee who lives in Corona, Calif. She says that Thanksgiving is the one day she has available to relax and spend time with family and friends, and pleads with Target CEO Gregg W. Steinhafel to hold off the opening until early the next morning.

In the letter/petition she asks people to sign, she writes: "A 9pm opening disgusts me and symbolizes everything that is wrong with this country. Give Thanksgiving back to families."

The Customer Is Always Right

Today, Target responded to the campaign with a post on "A Bullseye View," its official blog. The post says that the early opening plan was devised in response to feedback from customers, who said they'd prefer to shop right after Thanksgiving dinner instead of in the early hours of the morning. And it insists that employee preferences were taken into account in scheduling the Thanksgiving shifts.

"When we made the decision to open our doors at 9:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the first thing we did was reach out to all of our store leaders and ask them to have discussions with their team members and seek volunteers wanting to work," wrote Tina Schiel, executive vice president for Target stores. "We had so many team members who wanted to work on Thursday that hundreds of our stores are now keeping lists of volunteers who want to work if shifts open up."

The post goes on to say that all employees working the Thanksgiving shift will receive time-and-a-half pay; that most employees will need to show up less than an hour before the opening; and that "there is no corporate policy mandating that people have to work on Thanksgiving or Black Friday."

The careful wording of that last claim seems to leave open the possibility that some store managers may indeed mandate that some employees come in to work that night, as the petition and many of its signatories claim. [Update: In an email Friday evening, C Renee -- identified as Walmart worker Casey St. Clair -- responded: "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. If that's not a policy mandating people work on Thanksgiving, I don't know what is." The email included a link to a photograph purporting to show holiday blackout dates posted inside a Target store.]

Money on the Table

Don't expect Target to budge on this one. Unlike Walmart, it isn't facing any kind of organized labor action on Black Friday. And if it relented and moved back the opening back to midnight or later, it would be leaving money on the table. In a blog post Thursday, NPD Group analyst Marshal Cohen says that those retailers who extended their hours last year saw Black Friday weekend sales increases of up to 22%. And he points out that online sales were big on Thanksgiving last year, suggesting that traditional retailers will lose business to online competitors if they don't open their doors that day.

"If online is open, why should brick-and-mortar close just to give away those precious shopping hours to the competition?" he reasons.

In the closing line of her petition, C Renee makes it clear how she'd respond to that argument.

"The world won't end if people have [to] wait 7 more hours to buy useless junk that will be outdated in a year anyway," she says.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.



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Terri

I worked in walmart for 3 yrs and it was mandatory that everyone be at work on black friday....So you , either show up on black fri or get fired ...I finally found something else and this yr for the first time in a while I actually got to enjoy my Thanksgiving ....My thought about black friday is if walmart and target want to be open on holidays then let the managers and ceos go in there and wait on customers ..Why should they get to have that day off with pay while the people working under them have to work a 12 hour shift on the holiday for a measley 8 to 10 bucks an hour ?

November 23 2012 at 9:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Katie

I never go shopping on these days, because people are absolutely nuts but I think it is crap that employees are complaining. First off, be happy you have a job and they aren't making you work the whole day. When you get a job in retail... expect to work crazy hours during the holidays. Nurses, doctors, child protective services, even workers at McDonalds don't get the day off. These people are acting like they are the only ones on the planet that have to work on a holiday. Try working 8 holidays in a hospital for 14 hours.

November 19 2012 at 11:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Katie's comment
Keith Hermann

@ Katie, I agree with you about the craziness of going near a shopping mall on that day. But to blame the employees for being upset at having to work on, not just a federal holiday but a family holiday so that people can shop for "stuff" is a bit like blaming the victim after a crime. Many of these employees are only working retail because they can't find a job in their respective fields due to outsourcing, the economy, etc. In many of those fields they've lost, they weren't working Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. They were off.
Now, they are working low wage, low skilled jobs for which many of them are over-skilled to be working in the first place. They are rightfully angry at how they landed up and worse, seeing how some companies treat this class of employee. To address your point about other people having to work Thanksgiving (doctors, nurses, police), they usually get paid a bonus for working holidays, such as 2 future days off for working this holiday, overtime paid at time and a half, double time and in some cases which I am aware of, double time and a half. In many of these named fields the workers are also unionized and have gotten that pay rate through collective bargaining.
In my opinion, no one needs to be shopping anywhere before 6am on Friday. But should these businesses decide that they must open, they should be paying their employees at least double time for stepping across the threshold and be paid for a full day of work as well as receive personal thanks from their bosses for "volunteering" to work. She a union become involved in representing these retail workers, I can guarantee you that they would up the employees pay rate and earn them a holiday pay rate based upon volunteering to work these days, as well as overtime when they work on Sundays. If the company can't or won't, afford that option, then stay closed and let the employees be off until the Friday after.
Any as a disclaimer, I was a retail worker who was unionized with the UFCW. I got paid a minimum overtime rate of 1.5x for working Sundays, 2x for working holidays, fully paid health benefits with no copays, 4 weeks of vacation, sick days and a pension. When I left that company in 1994 I was earning $20 hour after working for them for 10 years. I left for another unionized job, this one not in retail but my benefits are better. FYI, that first company is still in existence and it still remains a unionized job. They also stay closed on most "family" holidays (Christmas / Easter).

November 21 2012 at 6:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
freethedems2012

Boycot Black Friday.

November 19 2012 at 6:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
n45

Strange both Target and Walmart have on line stores. So how are they leaving money on the table?

November 19 2012 at 3:01 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Eric

The funny thing is that it is the same people who complain about about the "1 percenters" and the mighty and terrible rich capitalists are the same people who line up outside Walmart to get there new 42" color TV!!!

November 19 2012 at 11:39 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
pm0501

You think this Black Friday jazz is troubling, how about the people who lined up to get the last box of Hostess snack cakes last week!

November 19 2012 at 10:17 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
pamiss45

The reason this country is experiencing a lot of the problems they are having is they have allowed family and values to be gotten rid of. Families used to get together on holidays and relax and have fun together - not any more. The only reason that the Target employees said they would work was for money (time and a half pay). So money is the root of the problem both to an employee who does care about his fellow worker and to the employer who only cares about the sale.
If everybody did what I do the holidays would be back and fast! I have never ever shopped on Black Friday. To me it is not worth the fighting for parking, running here & there, and half the time what you go for is in very short supply. I used to do dinners at my house for my family (Mom, Dad, sisters & husbands & children), then we would all play games and just have fun. I understand that certain types of work require that there be 24/7 coverage (I am a nurse) but this bit with stores is eating away at family. I think if you can't make a list and have what you need in the day before the holiday - oh well, tough.
I also will not shop any store that plainly lied as Target did. I'll pay a little extra or go without just to do this.

November 19 2012 at 6:09 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pamiss45's comment
freethedems2012

We have turned away from God and He is punishing us.

November 19 2012 at 9:11 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
hi

This whole Black Friday thing is absolutely ridiculous and totally out of hand. The Christmas holiday is a month away and we now have to sacrifice Thanksgiving for it? I refuse to step foot in these stores now.

November 19 2012 at 5:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to hi's comment
pm0501

I never havet nor will I ever participate in a "Black Friday" event! No way I'm going to fight a mob of section 8'ers to save a few bucks!

November 19 2012 at 9:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
tjanet6

Where are these family values the Repubs. are always espousing? Oh, that's right, family values come second to making a buck. Once again, hypocrisy reigns in the Republican party.

November 19 2012 at 5:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to tjanet6's comment
danno

You can never please democrats..give them a job and ask therm to work during a major holiday period and you are infringing on there rights...Bitch and moan and give me more... Oh and they get paid double time a little something these liberal genuises forgot to mention..

November 19 2012 at 1:23 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply