This year, hundreds of malls will open for holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day, the new norm in American retail. The owner of those malls, Simon Property Group, is facing consumer backlash for encouraging stores to deny workers their holidays and feeding a 26-hour shopping frenzy.
Employees at Simon malls across the country are fighting the holiday encroachment, too. Eight petitions on Change.org ask Simon stores to change their hours on Thanksgiving Day. Amber Baumgart, a worker at a Wisconsin Simon mall, began the largest one. Now signed by more than 21,000 people, Baumgart’s petition argues the six employees at her small store have no choice but to work 12 hour shifts that day.
“With my company, no one gets any sort of compensation for working a holiday,” Baumgart writes:
And I’m sure that applies to many more. Shouldn’t malls, which are family friendly establishments, have good morals and standards that fully support the American family and their values? This is a time for families to come together and enjoy a meal. To catch up. To have fun. Why are mall employees any different? Being in retail for 7 years, working for said Simon mall, and I find this to be crossing the line.
Baumgart said she has not heard back yet from Simon. Simon Property Group told ThinkProgress, “Our extended holiday hours are designed to meet our customers’ need for greater flexibility as they seek to fit holiday shopping into their already busy schedules.”
Tens of thousands of people have also signed petitions aimed at Walmart, Kohl’s, and Target, asking the stores to push back their hours to “save Thanksgiving.” Some have threatened boycotts. A lawmaker in Ohio says he will propose legislation aimed at making stores think twice about opening that day or, if they do, compensate workers much better for it.
Some large chains are resisting the pressure to open Thanksgiving, including Radio Shack, Patagonia, and Apple, citing similar reasoning: People deserve a day off on a holiday meant to be celebrated with families. Retail analysts are also skeptical that extending holiday season shopping by several hours will boost overall sales. Last year at the start of this trend, stores saw Black Friday shopping hit a record high, but seasonal profits still disappointed.