Retail employees might have much to be thankful for, but a full day off work to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with their families might not be one of them.
Stores trying to take advantage of shoppers' frenzy to get the best bargains as the Christmas season officially begins Nov. 23 are opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday, so-called because for many retailers it's the day that can put them in the black for the year.
Many big-box chains, including Gap, Kmart, Target and Toys R Us, opened on Thanksgiving last year, and other retailers might start Black Friday sales at midnight. Retailers that try to resist the trend to open earlier could fall behind as their competitors ring up big sales before Black Friday.
But that is hardly fair to employees who might have to show up for work as early as 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
We're all for people getting a jump on the yuletide shopping season, especially because consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of the U.S. economy, and the economy could use a boost. The National Retail Federation has forecast the country's holiday spending will rise 4.1 percent over last year, to about $586 billion, an average of about $750 per holiday shopper. That is good news, indeed.
But let's wait to fire the starter's gun until, say, 5 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving.
There is, after all, Small Business Saturday, which, so far, has kept its national promotion to Saturday and left Black Friday deals where they belong. Now in its third year, tens of millions of consumers around the country are expected to shop on Small Business Saturday this year. Retailers such as The King's English Bookshop will be hosting activities to encourage the community to "shop small" on Nov. 24.
The other small-business event, Local First Utah, designates a full week of activities after Thanksgiving to get shoppers into locally owned shops and restaurants. Shift Your Spending Week will run Nov. 23 to Dec. 1.
It's estimated that for every $10 spent at a local business, $4.50 stays in Utah, while only $1.40 stays at home if shoppers spend their $10 at a chain store. Spending just 10 percent more at local businesses would keep $487 million in the Utah economy each year.
Figures from the Governor's Office of Economic Development show that for every dollar spent on local products, "$4 to $6 is pumped into sustaining employment, lowering taxes and supporting lifestyles and the state's heritage industries."
But, first, give Thanksgiving a chance.