Ruining Workers’ Thanksgivings Fails To Boost Holiday Shopping Sales


A Black Friday shopper

A large number of stores decided to open for Black Friday so early this year that they had hours on Thanksgiving Day itself, hoping to juice the holiday shopping season haul and necessitating that millions of workers show up to their jobs. But while sales did increase on Thanksgiving this year, that only took a bite out of Black Friday sales, failing to bring the net increase that retailers were hoping for.

Overall, retail spending over the holiday weekend actually fell for the first time in at least seven years. The National Retail Federation said that spending fell 2.7 percent compared to last year’s take, dropping by $57.4 billion. And the number of shoppers showing up to stores on Black Friday was down more than 11 percent compared to last year, according to ShopperTrak, with sales down 13.2 percent. The number of people who shopped on Thanksgiving was up, however, which indicates that they were “pulled forward” or simply showed up earlier, rather than increasing the total number for the weekend.

Some stores, however, decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day in order to preserve the holiday for their workers and, potentially, to avoid siphoning off Black Friday customers. The stores that opened on the holiday not only risked reduced sales, but they also risked an actual backlash from consumers, half of whom said they disapproved of opening so early. Some shoppers had started petitions to get stores to stay closed. Workers also pushed back with petitions and some even went on strike at Whole Foods in Chicago.

Walmart workers also took Black Friday to stage 1,500 protests against the giant retailer. They called for a raise in wages, more full time work, and an end to retaliation against those who strike just as workers did in nine strikes in the month before the holiday.