Worker to Target: Delay Black Friday Opening

Discussion
Nov 15, 2011
George Anderson

A number of comments in last week’s RetailWire discussion on stores opening on Thanksgiving Day talked about the negative effect such policies have on workers.

Anne Howe, founder of Anne Howe Associates and a member of the RetailWire BrainTrust, said, “If this craziness continues we’re going to have a nation full of snarky retail associates who will be less and less willing to help shoppers because the industry has moved too far into controlling their lives, even on national holidays.”

Not that it was any big secret, but many workers are unhappy about what they see as an intrusion into their personal lives. One Target worker was so upset that he took his unhappiness online to change.org with a petition that seeks to get the retailer to push back its holiday opening.

According to a CBS Detroit report, more than 40,000 individuals have joined with Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee based in Omaha, asking the company to move its Black Friday open back to 5:00 a.m. versus midnight.

“All Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones on Thanksgiving,” said Mr. Hardwick. “With the midnight opening, employees like myself will have to leave for work right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. We don’t mind hard work, but cutting into our holidays is a step too far.”

A RetailWire poll found that 78 percent believe it somewhat/very likely that most big chains will eventually open on Thanksgiving Day.

Discussion Questions: Do you think retailers will see any type of associate and/or consumer backlash over earlier holiday openings? How would you handle Anthony Hardwick’s petition drive if you were his manager at Target?

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19 Comments on "Worker to Target: Delay Black Friday Opening"


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J. Peter Deeb
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

No doubt there will be lots of associate unhappiness as the giant retailers infringe on their holidays. Consumers, maybe not so much! If there was not a mania to get the best prices or the toy that is hot and in short supply Black Friday would not be moving to 10 pm or midnight on Thanksgiving! This is as much a consumer driven issue as retailers trying to get the jump on competition.

On the second point, this is still America and the associate has the right to petition and should not be disciplined as long as he shows up for work on his schedule.

David Livingston
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

First I would fire him. Now when a future employer Googles his name he will forever be known as a trouble maker, whiner, and complainer. If he doesn’t like Target, then maybe he should opt to get into another line of work. Imagine if a pro football player whined about having to play a game on Thanksgiving. Or a nurse in the hospital.

When I was working in the stores, I hated working 14 days during Christmas. It’s business and you do what you have to do. It’s retail: is working a couple of extra odd hours going to be the end of the world? This crybaby needs to grow up.

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I think we may, just may, be on the cusp of a revolt from both consumers and employees over holiday hours. The employee impositions are obvious, but consumers seem to be feeling it to. There is an implied message that “the best stuff — the best deals” are being offered. Otherwise, why the need for the holiday openings? So consumers are essentially being told that they have to give up their holiday time to go to the store or suffer the greatest shopper sin of all — “missing the good deal.”

Sure, the reasoning here is intuitive and sketchy at that. It’s more of a feeling than anything else. But Machiavelli never really died, and consumers are feeling his hand in this.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

We can only hope so!

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Not to be openly political, but these moves happen at a bad time for the retail industry, when there is already brewing discontent over the perceived loss of employees’ rights (including government workers), the OWS movement, and so on. The publicity surrounding early Black Friday (or now Black Thursday) openings has been mostly negative, but retailers will be focused on the results: Did the midnight openings drive more sales or simply take the urgency out of the event? And was the disruption to store associates’ lives worth the extra revenue?

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
9 years 5 months ago

Backlashes are always possible over almost any issue so, too, over-earlier holiday openings. The trend to challenge almost everything seems to be surging. Technology has given voice to everyone from wisest to agitators. Perhaps “Occupy Target” could be next?

Target could suggest to Mr. Hardwick that they must remain competitive and successful for employees’ jobs to be more secure in turbulent times … and ask if he would like to have Black Friday off.

Tony Orlando
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

This is a no-win for someone like me, who as an independent would not put that employee in the position in the first place. As I said before, In my opinion, the big box retailers do not consider Thanksgiving as I do, and therefore nobody really cares what someone like me thinks because it is getting worse for workers in these large stores to enjoy a nice Holiday with their families.

The employee who wrote the petition will probably find work elsewhere, as Target will not change their position, and this Black Friday stuff is a crazy race to nowhere.

Connie Kski
Guest
Connie Kski
9 years 5 months ago

I have to agree with Tony’s comment. As an independent retailer, I wouldn’t put my employees in that position. They are a valuable resource and I’m going to be looking for high performance from my sales associates over the next few weeks. Why start the season with bad feelings?

Bernice Hurst
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Stephen took the words out of my mouth. Not that I expect there to be sufficient consumer backlash to make the point but I suppose it’s a good thing to live in hope.

Diana Podaski
Guest
Diana Podaski
9 years 5 months ago

Holiday music is turned on earlier and earlier every year and now hours of Black Friday are getting earlier and earlier at no surprise really. I can definitely understand this employee being upset about cutting into his holiday with family. Does he really have to leave in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner though or was that exaggerated? I do think there will be a backlash with employees. I’m in retail real estate and I do think tough hours are part of the retail trade but, unfortunately, retail is all about pleasing the consumer and if the demand is that people truly want to be out earlier than 5 am shopping, then that’s the way it goes. However, I would not agree to earlier Thanksgiving hours; midnight is early enough.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
9 years 5 months ago

Clearly, Anthony Hardwick recently won the lottery.

That aside, retailers, particularly 4-wall retailers, rely on their associates to succeed. Ignoring their personal lives will not only de-motivate a critical element of success, but pave the way for unionization.

Is a few basis points of market share worth that? Seems like a poor trade to me.

Mark Johnston
Guest
Mark Johnston
9 years 5 months ago

Store employees need time off, and that is what a holiday is. As for the point about football players and nurses working on holidays, they signed up knowing this is/could be a condition of employment.

Mark Barnhouse
Guest
Mark Barnhouse
9 years 5 months ago

Apparently no Target executive has never read Dickens — Target is no different from Ebeneezer Scrooge, who has forgotten what it means to be human (remember his annoyance that Bob Cratchet won’t be reporting for work on Christmas), and needs three ghosts to teach him. Target is wrong to make its employees report to work on a national/religious holiday, but so too will their customers be wrong in supporting it by shopping at that ungodly hour. This is just another example of how hollowed out Americans’ priorities have become, particularly in the pursuit of “things” that hold no value and that mean nothing in the long run. Will the recipients of these gifts purchased on Thanksgiving night even remember what they were given this time next year? But they will remember that mom left after dinner, and years from now will remember how alone they felt.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

I’m wondering if we will eventually see a return of Blue Laws — at least some limited form of them — prohibiting/limiting store openings on certain holidays; ultimately it seems like the only answer for the “trouble makers, whiners and complainers” who want to “break bread with loved ones.”

Robert Straub
Guest
Robert Straub
9 years 5 months ago

This story reminds me of what it was like living in Eastern Europe in the early nineties. If you didn’t buy what you needed by around noon on Saturday, you were out of luck until Monday, and forget about finding anything open on a holiday. Of course, that has all changed there now … which is too bad since it’s about the only thing the communists ever got right. It also makes me thankful that I don’t work in the service industry anymore.

Michael Finn
Guest
Michael Finn
9 years 5 months ago

Part of the problem was the communication between the employees and corporate. The company told all of its employees that it was opening at 4 AM up until it was announced in early November. They had just sent us paperwork to our desks saying that we would be open at 4 AM. When the time came, they announced it at some stores over the walkies during the business day as if it was just a phone call. It was very unprofessional and the employees have a right to be upset.

As for the said employee, firing him would be the exact opposite of what should happen. There is a lot of anxiety over this and how it will affect the employees. Giving voice to and showing a concern is a leadership type of quality. It requires the company to directly address its problems rather than sweeping it under. It’s difficult and it’s time consuming for management to deal with but that’s what they get paid for.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 5 months ago

All this whining could easily be avoided. I once worked for a supermarket chain that made working on holidays voluntary and reinforced it with bonus pay for those hours. Employees used to compete for the available spots. We had to go by seniority to award the coveted extra hours. Worked like a charm.

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
9 years 5 months ago

Let’s stop pontificating and start listening to the market. It will tell us if customers desire to shop on Thanksgiving. If they prefer to shop on Thanksgiving evening then we must serve them.

Re: Mr. Hardwick, he should be dismissed for insubordination. I appreciate the compassion that some of my colleagues would like to exhibited. Target has procedures for employees’ concerns/issues. Complaining to http://www.change.org is likely not one of them.

Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 5 months ago
We’ve come to a point in society where all holidays could be simply changed to retail selling days and the holidays themselves could be eliminated as far as retailers are concerned. Certainly, Mr. Hardwick could be fired. He could also be counseled, heard, and given an opportunity to take the day off. If Target or any retailer is concerned with associate backlash, they can ask for volunteers, offer incentives or bonus pay, or some other inducement to work outside of normal hours. Or, they can do nothing — it’s their choice. I do believe that retailers are sending the wrong message to consumers. That is, if you want to be our best customers, you have to come at midnight. There are much better ways to accomplish the goals of the selling season. Simply jumping off a bridge because some one else did, isn’t the right answer. I think our mothers had something to say about that. Target suffered a backlash over their decision about the Salvation Army years back. They were at the time willing… Read more »
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