Is it OK to ditch family and friends on Thanksgiving to shop till you drop?

Is it OK to ditch family and friends on Thanksgiving to shop till you drop?

The idea has stirred plenty of vitriol this year given major retailers’ decisions to open on Thanksgiving and entice customers with “door-buster” sales.

“People have gotten to the point of being devout to the religion of a good deal,” said Andrew Gantt, 22, a resident of the Downtown Discovery District.

“If you’re looking for a good deal on a present to give someone, maybe you should just give them your undivided attention and time on the holidays. I personally would be highly offended if people got up (from dinner) early to go shopping.”

For decades, retailers opened early on the day after Thanksgiving with “Black Friday” deals that prompted customers to line up in droves.

Two years ago, some retailers opened their doors at midnight as Thanksgiving ended. Last year, Wal-Mart opened at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.

This year, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s and JCPenney are among the stores that will open at 8 tonight. Others, such as Kmart and Big Lots, will be open all day.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers still are affected by the Great Recession from the late 2000s and worry about spending money on holiday gift-giving. That prompted retailers to offer sales earlier in the holiday season.

Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Wal-Mart, said that another reason for opening this year is the fact that there are six fewer days than usual between Thanksgiving — the traditional kickoff of holiday shopping — and Christmas.

Janet M. Workman of Fayette County has worked retail in the past and sees no need for Thanksgiving Day shopping.

“There are so many other days to shop,” said Workman, 55. “There’s no sale that to me makes it worth it. My family time is more important to me than money.”

Workman and her husband, Mark, are grateful that their 26-year-old son, Lucas, who’s in graduate school in Indiana, doesn’t have to work at his part-time job at Kmart today.

Lucas hasn’t been home since August, so the family will have a lot of catching up to do as they sit down to a feast of deep-fried turkey, green beans, sweet potatoes, rolls, gravy and pumpkin pie.

“Everything is so busy now, and the holidays are when you have time with your family,” Mrs. Workman said. “Family time has become, ... well, there just isn’t any.”

The day is a welcome break even for retired folks such as Edward Maykowski, 71, and his wife, Becky, 70, of the Northeast Side.

This year, they’ll spend the day at the home of a brother’s grandchild, eating turkey, ham, two kinds of stuffing, a special Jell-O salad and at least two kinds of pie. The hosts change from year to year, but the meal is always buffet-style so the 20 to 30 relatives can chat while they sit and eat all around the house.

“If my guests got up and left early to go shopping, their next Thanksgiving dinner (would) not be at my house,” Mr. Maykowski said.

“It’s a free country, so if that’s what they want to do, who am I to tell them? But I don’t think it’s right.”

Carie Chaffin Spicer of Newark in Licking County expects to hit the stores with her mother and sisters later today, as they have in the past couple of years.

“I will probably have bricks thrown at me, but I am being honest here,” she said on Facebook. “I won’t be charging out to be in line at the doors, but once we all sit and have our time together, the ladies will once again head out.

“I do feel bad for those who have to work who do not want to and do not think they should be made to do so. I see the positive and negative of it. I can say that I am thankful for any time I get with my family, whether it is around the table or in the shops.”

Some retailers have come out strongly against opening on Thanksgiving Day.

One is Menards, which announces at the top of its website that it will be closed so that customers and employees can celebrate the day with family and friends.

Some Dispatch readers said on Facebook that they know people who prefer to work on Thanksgiving because they need the money or don’t have families to celebrate with.

But most of the 88 commenters said they hated the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Only one admitted to having done it in the past.

Several suggested that, if enough people don’t participate, the trend might disappear.

That’s the goal of more than 60 petitions opposing the practice on More than 216,000 signatures had been collected by Tuesday.

For Donnie Austin, owner and manager of House Wine in Worthington, being closed today was a no-brainer. While he always favors more revenue, he won’t sacrifice his employees’ family time.

“If Thanksgiving sales make or break our business, we shouldn’t be in business,” Austin said.



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