Thursday, November 28, 2013

New York Times: Consumerism Has Encroached on Thanksgiving

From the editorial page:

In 1939, Thanksgiving was supposed to fall on Nov. 30, but President Franklin Roosevelt, on the advice of the National Retail Dry Goods Association, pushed it forward a week to extend the holiday gift-buying season. That delighted business owners but upset traditionalists, like the selectmen of Plymouth, Mass., who felt that celebrating early meant “sacrificing the real significance of the day for the purpose of satisfying commercial interests.”

Although Thanksgiving was already tied up with “commercial interests,” Americans back then at least waited until after the feasting to start their frenzied shopping. Lately, consumerism has encroached on the day itself. This shift isn’t entirely new. Walmart has been open on Thanksgiving for years. Now big retailers, including Target, J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Best Buy, will open earlier on Thursday than in past years to get a bigger jump on Black Friday. Kmart is opening at 6 a.m. Thanksgiving Day and staying open for 41 hours straight.
Retailers wouldn’t open on Thursday if they thought customers would rather spend time at home. The problem is their policies don’t just dilute the spirit of Thanksgiving. They’re hard on workers, who are often given no choice but to work on the holiday. One Cleveland lawmaker wants to help. Mike Foley, a Democrat in the Ohio House of Representatives, has drafted state legislation that would require employers to pay triple-time on the holiday or give workers the option of staying home. He has acknowledged that it’s unlikely to pass Ohio’s Republican-controlled House, but it would make working on Thanksgiving more worthwhile.