If you think Black Friday couldn’t get worse, you got it wrong. The biggest shopping day of the year is beginning earlier than ever this year with retailers such as Target, Best Buy, Kohl's, Gap, Toys r Us and Macy's opening their doors as early as midnight, or even earlier in the case of Wal-Mart. The reason, of course, is the soaring economy and retailers’ eagerness to get consumers into their stores to start their shopping celebration as soon as possible.
If it was a regular year, retailers would probably be able to get away with it pretty easily. But this is not a regular year. This is the year of Occupy Wall Street and consumer backlash against unjustified bank fees, so it’s not surprising to see some public protest against retailers, organized this time by employees who are upset about the fact that they can’t enjoy the holiday with their families because the stores open so early. The main retailer that is in the line of fire is Target.
Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee in Omaha, Nebraska, started a petition on Change.org protesting Target’s plan to open at midnight. He explains there that “a midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day. By opening the doors at midnight, Target is requiring team members to be in the store by 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation -- all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night's rest on Thanksgiving!”
The petition, which called Target to push back the opening of retail stores on black Friday to 5 a.m., went viral and received almost 200,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Earlier this week, a Minnesota Target employee delivered six red-and-white Target bags full of 190,000 hard-copies of the petition to Target Corp. headquarters in Minneapolis. Target’s official reply was that "the decision to open at midnight on Black Friday was not one we took lightly. As that is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is imperative that we be competitive. Our guests have expressed that they would prefer to kick off their holiday shopping by heading out after their holiday celebrations rather than getting up in the middle of the night."