Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Wishes and Personal Black Friday Boycott

I want to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope you take at least a moment and think about what you're thankful for. My list is endless, filled with more who's than what's. My apartment home happens to pops into my mind first however.

I am also grateful not to be working in retail this Christmas season. This hasn't happen in ten years, a decade. I was acutely aware of how relaxed I was on November 1st, not to be going into a crazed next couple of months.

I also do not have to work long hours, in the middle of the night, on Black Friday, the famous day for shopping on the day after the American holiday of Thanksgiving. As store manager last year, I was there on and off for the 22-23 hours we were open. Malls also extend their hours for several weeks and not just on this "Black" day.

My boss B recently asked me if I was going out on Black Friday. (After thinking to myself, "With what money?") I replied, with a half laugh, that since I've worked that day for the last decade, I wouldn't want to shop that day for another decade.

Even if they paid me to take an item out of the store, I wouldn't want to enter the chaos and face crowds of people overly concerned with stuff. Plus, hunt an hour for a parking spot. Just doesn't sound like fun to me... I like shopping. I wouldn't want to have a terrible shopping experience. Sometimes the Saturday before Christmas turns out to be the busiest and most profitable shopping day of the year, so beware of that day too.

Stores opening at midnight or before (9 PM!) cut into Thanksgiving, a holiday. Stores are staffed by people. These employees deserve to thoroughly enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday (which, unfortunately, is time off in the middle and not the start of the holiday shopping season) with their loved ones, for a single day. For a midnight store opening, employees have to report earlier, on Thanksgiving night.

In addition, stores often change their sales and promotions during different hours. And then corporate offices want sales numbers reported at specific times. Employees have to deal with all that while dealing with hoards of customers/ guests. I've been there. I still feel for them.

I understand a tradition in going out shopping for some-- in order to spend time with friends and family. And that different hours of operation is different and can be fun or exciting. But, can't this quality time be spent between 10 AM and 9 PM? You can certainly shop 'til you drop during those hours. I am in favor of standard hours of operation. If there's any deviation, give people time off!

The whole Black Friday thing doesn't fall into line with my Italian values. In Italy, they still take a siesta from 1 to 4 each day. And sometimes businesses close on a certain day of the week, or don't come back after lunch on Thursday afternoons. They will take the month of August off for vacation as well! Italy basically shuts down for the month.

A sign reading:
"Closed for the Holidays. From the 8th of August to the 23rd of August. Returning Tuesday, August 24th."

While living in Italy, I had to get used to this siesta. When the vast majority of businesses closed, I had to find something to do! Some stores, like The United Colors of Benetton in my study abroad town I remember, remained open continuously. After I got used to it, I came to like it. With traveling, I found, it's nice to arrive someplace before or after siesta, to arrange around it.

With this time off, Italians show that they value things like the meal, time well spent with loved ones, and even a nap rather than being productive, constantly working and making a buck. It definitely seems more fun in Italy.

I look forward to working my normal shift from 8:30 AM to 5 PM at my non-retail job on Friday. And sleeping until I have to get ready for work. And doing something other than shopping afterward.

Who's with me?

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