Just Say No to Black Thursday
Black Friday is upon us. The malls have been mobbed since midnight, and retailers are saying they want to be allowed to open on Thanksgiving Day too. They argue that consumers should have the choice to shop on Thanksgiving, which state law now prohibits. Fortunately for them, Rep. Colleen Garry has filed legislation (House Bill 00989; perhaps it’s one of several) to allow stores to sell anything, anytime – even on Christmas, unless it falls on a Sunday. Say what? Does Rep. Garry believe that the Friday frenzy isn’t sufficient to pump up the economy and that consumers are being denied an excuse to escape from their tedious family gatherings?
When I worked in retail I was pretty put off by being forced to report on Labor Day, as if it didn’t apply to me. Now store owners will put their staff on call on Thanksgiving Day too, as if that’s what workers really want. Has Rep Garry polled retail workers how they feel about being dragged into work, possibly all night and into Friday?
Extending the Friday frenzy won’t necessarily produce meaningful marginal sales. Stores quickly run out of prized items in a few hours anyway and most people aren’t interested in back-to-back buying binges. There must be morons who would spend both days at one or more malls, but I don’t think the Commonwealth should be catering to them or to the retail associations that are behind Garry's bill. Let compulsive shoppers spend Thanksgiving driving to other states.
I'm being harsh because this is serious stuff. I said "morons" because I sense that those who serial shop seem strangely oblivious to the forces that make them want more stuff all the time. They do not care to know how marketing machines influence their own behavior. They want to be seduced by media experiences, which they happily allow to crowd out full-scale human interactions. So they stay up all night to be first in line to get a plasma TV, laptop, smartphone or tablet at half off, to which they will pay more attention than their friends or family. A slow, cool death of human values, pleasing to consumers and investors but ultimately pernicious.
So... do your small part and please communicate to your legislators that they should oppose House Bill 00989 and any other measure that would trash workers' holidays and add to centrifugal forces we and our communities already face. Adding to these will soon be casinos and slots, which of course will line the pockets of the 1% at you-know-whose expense. Why have we come to this? It's the stupid economy.