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Thanksgiving Day does not have to fade to black

Thanksgiving Day is just one week away. This is the time of the year in which we are reminded to celebrate the holiday with family and friends.

I’m all for that. Of course, we know that so-called Black Friday has been creeping into Thursday night in an attempt to draw more customers. I have seen editorials, columns and Facebook posts condemning this practice that infringes on Thanksgiving. In some households, it’s all about eating dinner, watching football games and talking awhile.

Then it is off to the races – or in this case – the malls. Those sales apparently are too attractive to some of us who finish dessert and then go out and shop.

As for me, I don’t condemn or promote the idea of shopping on Thanksgiving night. After three days at work, I like to relax after the large dinner with all the trimmings. Spending time with family is more important to me than racing out the door to find a sale on some appliance.

But from what I have been reading of late, more and more retailers are resisting the temptation to open their doors on Thanksgiving night. Many of the nation’s major retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving. According to one published report, Toys R Us, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom will be closed. T.J. Maxx has never opened on Thanksgiving. The nation’s largest mall, Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minn., will also be closed.

I suppose these retailers should be commended. But I’m guessing there is more to it than that. Some store owners began closing on Thanksgiving the past couple of years. They have been praised in articles and TV programs for their consideration for employees, who can celebrate the whole day off for Thanksgiving. The simple fact of the matter is that the idea of racing out on Thanksgiving night to shop is beginning to lose its luster.

Part of the reason is online shopping, which has steadily grown over the years. Another reason is that although there might be a lot of people walking throughout the mall, little shopping was taking place. When my daughter would occasionally go out on Thanksgiving night with friends, they bought very little. It was just an opportunity to get together, walk through the mall, and maybe have some coffee.

The fact that many retailers opened up on Thanksgiving night in earnest about five years ago ended up hurting businesses on Black Friday. These business owners began to realize that is hard to sustain high revenue numbers when you open the previous day with numerous sales. Or maybe people are just beginning to smarten up. You don’t have to restrict yourself by going to out to bump shoulders with other customers on Black Friday. This may come as a shock to some people but there will be plenty of sales through December.

The term Black Friday unofficially dates back to the 1960s when the day after Thanksgiving became the busiest day of the holiday shopping season. Black refers to stores moving from the “red” to the “black,” back when accounting records were kept by hand. The red ink was a loss while the black ink meant a profit was turned.

However, the origin of Black Friday really dates back to the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade that began in 1924. This slowly developed into the start of the holiday shopping season. Most residents did not originally get the day off after Thanksgiving. But more of us began to take the day off to assure a four-day weekend that included shopping.

But this year, that trend might be slowly changing. Consumers are shopping earlier and looking for sales. Those early shopper are smart. Discounted items begin popping up before Halloween. For parents with larger families and tighter budgets, it probably makes more sense to venture out earlier instead of spending hours fighting crowds on Black Friday.

The busiest shopping days are expected to be in December, according to most forecasts. Actually, if these shopping statistics were more accurate, they would show that most people shop in December. Some of us still have to save up as much as possible to buy even discounted items. And there are those people – and I’m not one of them – who wait as long as possible to get heavily discounted items. These are the same people who get a rush out of dealing with crowded malls and tense shoppers. I try to get done earlier than that. I will not venture out two or three days before Christmas to go shopping.

The experts state that the biggest shopping day of this year will be Friday, Dec. 23, two days before Christmas. Another report states that “Super Sunday,” is expected to be highest on Dec. 17. I will do my best to be nearly done before those dates, super or not.

And that still means that I won’t be rushing out the door to buy a big screen TV. Besides, I already got one, long before Black Friday. And, yes, it was on sale.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]

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