On Tuesday, Macy’s became the first major retailer to announce its Thanksgiving operating hours. The department store will open its doors at 6 p.m. nationwide — the second year in a row the chain will open on the federal holiday.
In 2012, Macy’s opened at midnight to kick off its Black Friday sales. Last year, it opened on Thanksgiving for the first time, at 8 p.m., in an attempt to get ahead of its competitors. According to the department store’s representatives, the sale strategy is “in response to the significant, sustained customer interest in last year’s opening on Thanksgiving.”
Macy’s also claims that volunteers have signed up for most of the coming holiday’s shifts.
Major businesses that open on Thanksgiving have received backlash for taking advantage of workers who cannot otherwise decline to work. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kmart, Kohl’s, J.C. Penney, and Toys R Us were among the biggest companies to do so in 2013.
And workers have very little say in the matter. Some are told outright that they cannot request time off, as was the case with Kmart employees. And those who volunteer tend to do so because they are part-time, underpaid employees who are given erratic schedules and need all of the hours they can get. Others are not guaranteed vacation days at all. Indeed, out of 21 developed countries, the U.S. is the only one that does not require all workers to have paid vacations and holidays.
But opening stores on Thanksgiving Day, as opposed to Black Friday, does not yield the sales that stores like Macy’s expect for the holiday weekend overall. Though 45 million people shopped on Thanksgiving in 2013, total spending over the weekend dropped 2.7 percent from 2012. And ShopperTrak, a market researcher, concluded that Black Friday sales dropped roughly 13 percent while traffic declined by 11 percent.