Black Friday backlash
by Brian Anderson
banderson@annistonstar.com
Nov 27, 2013 | 3629 views |  0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Shoppers go into and out of T.J. Maxx in the Oxford Exchange. Chains including Dillard’s, Lowe’s and T.J. Maxx plan to remain closed on Thanksgiving and operate during normal business hours on Black Friday. Photo by Stephen Gross
Shoppers go into and out of T.J. Maxx in the Oxford Exchange. Chains including Dillard’s, Lowe’s and T.J. Maxx plan to remain closed on Thanksgiving and operate during normal business hours on Black Friday. Photo by Stephen Gross
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OXFORD — Jenny Jackson said she went shopping on Black Friday once. She wasn’t a fan.

“It was horrific,” the Oxford resident said of her experience standing in crowded lines at retail stores the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. “We ended up cutting it short and didn’t buy anything.”

Jackson said she won’t be going out on Friday this year. She also won’t be going out today, when many stores, including Walmart, Target and Kmart, plan to open as early as 6 a.m. in a growing trend of retailers pushing Black Friday hours back earlier and earlier into Thanksgiving.

“It’s time to spend with friends and family,” Jackson said outside of the Target in Oxford on Tuesday. “It’s not time to be out shopping.”

A lot of folks agree with Jackson. A poll conducted in early November by the University of Connecticut said 90 percent of Americans don’t plan to shop on Thanksgiving, and nearly 50 percent disapprove of stores opening on the holiday. A Facebook page called “Say No To Shopping on Thanksgiving” had more than 50,000 likes as of Wednesday.

“I feel so bad for the people who have to work,” said Paul Hughes, an Oxford resident out shopping at the Exchange on Tuesday, about retail employees working on Thanksgiving. “That’s rough.”

Some retailers have even gone out of their way to promote staying closed on Thursday. Chains including Dillard’s, Lowe’s and TJ Maxx plan to remain closed on Thanksgiving and operate during normal business hours on Black Friday.

“We feel so strongly about our employees spending Thanksgiving with their families,” Doreen Thompson, the vice president of corporate communications for TJX, the company that owns TJ Maxx, said in a press release. “We don’t anticipate this changing in the future.”

But just because people say they don’t think opening on Thanksgiving is a great idea doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be the customers who hope to snag a great deal as soon as doors open. Nancy King Dennis, a spokeswoman for the Alabama Retail Association, said if stores are doing great business, they’re going to open on Thanksgiving.

“If retailers didn’t think they could make money, they wouldn’t do it,” Dennis said. “Some people prefer to go out shopping after Thanksgiving instead of getting up early on Friday.”

That’s an idea Volker Schlemminger said he can get behind. The Oxford resident said Tuesday while shopping near the Oxford Exchange that he used to routinely go out during the cold, early hours of Black Friday.

“That sounds a lot better,” Schlemminger said of going out Thursday evening, and sleeping in Friday. “I can see why people are doing that if they really want to get the best deals.”

But one of the big reasons retailers decided to make a big splash on Thursday, Dennis said, is that the holiday shopping season that traditionally runs from Black Friday to Christmas is shorter this year. Dennis said despite popular belief, Black Friday isn’t the biggest shopping day of the year.

“It fluctuates,” Dennis said. “The last couple years the Saturday before Christmas has actually been the biggest in terms of sales.”

In Alabama, the holiday shopping season makes up 35 percent of retail sales for the whole year, and Dennis said the association expects $8.9 billion to be spent this season, with an average Alabamian spending more than $700.

“It’s big business,” Dennis said. “Black Friday is kind of the start of the season, but this year Black Friday started as late as it possibly could. Stores are trying to make up for that.”

Staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.

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