Point: Early holiday sales eventually lead to exploitation of employees

Mary Dolan

Editor's note: This column appears in a point-counterpoint regarding holiday shopping. Read this column's corresponding counterpoint here.

Though Christmas falls on Dec. 25, the holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier every year. As soon as Halloween has passed, and sometimes even before, stores and shopping centers break out the giant inflatable Santas, low prices and Christmas music while temperatures still rest comfortably in the 70s. While many consumers may be happy with the artificial celebrations, the ensuing Christmas mania creates problems for employees who are forced to work on Thanksgiving and throughout the busy holiday season.

In order to milk as much money out of Christmas sales as possible, stores have started running promotions as early as October. In the past, most retailers would save their biggest sales for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. However, some retailers have started offering deals on Thanksgiving evening to try and entice more consumers.

These “early” promotions result in employees having to work during part or all of Thanksgiving instead of having the holiday off to spend with family and friends, leading some consumers and workers to argue that retailers should stay closed. If they did, it wouldn’t be hard for them to make up the profits. Online shopping has made it easy for consumers to buy holiday gifts.

The shopping “holiday” Cyber Monday, which falls on the first Monday after Thanksgiving, has become one of the most popular days for consumers to buy holiday goods. Since Thanksgiving sales trail behind those on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it makes little sense for retailers to be open on Thanksgiving when they know that the bulk of their sales will be made over the weekend.

Some retailers have made it a point not to open on the holiday. Stores like Costco and Nordstrom remained closed on Thanksgiving, and T.J.Maxx even released a television advertisement that noted that it would be closed and encouraged viewers to spend time with family and friends.

The example of these retailers should be followed by other stores and consumers. The holiday season has become a time of commercialization and overconsumption. Many retailers and consumers focus on gift giving and receiving, and mentions of sharing the holidays with family and friends are made only in the context of how many gifts someone will need to purchase. While talking about the “real reason for the season” has become a cliché, it is important for retailers and the consumers they serve to remember the importance of focusing on aspects other than consumerism.

While this year’s holiday season is already underway, it isn’t too late to ensure that retail employees who work next year and beyond will get at least a small break from the madness of the holiday season.

Dolan is a journalism sophomore from Abilene. Follow Dolan on Twitter @mimimdolan.