Did you hear the big news? American retailers are carrying out a “war on the American family.”
Seriously. That’ s how some media hosts and pundits are characterizing the fact that many American retailers are planning to keep stores open on Thanksgiving Day.
And then there’s social media that all abuzz about the shocking, horrific developments. “Because I believe in family, I pledge to NOT shop on Thanksgiving” the much-shared Facebook “avatar” reads. “If I’m shopping, someone else is working and not spending time with their family. Everyone deserves a holiday.”
Well, how about this: if I’m shopping in a store – on Thanksgiving Day or any other day – then, yes, somebody else is working. And given that roughly one-third of the entire population of the United States is not working at all right now; and that the country’s labor force participation rate is at a thirty year low; and that the consumption of the federal Foodstamps and Medicaid welfare programs is at an all-time high – I’m thinking that if somebody is ambitious enough to work, even on Thanksgiving Day, then that’s a good thing.
Beyond that, this ginned-up crisis is foolish, for several important reasons:
A) This is not new: converging Thanksgiving Day, the “holiday” season and retail shopping has a long history in the U.S., dating as far back as the 1920’s with President Herbert Hoover. Given that he and his predecessor President Franklin Delano Roosevelt both governed during a market crash and the “Great Depression,” they both saw the overall economic benefits of robust retail sales. FDR is generally credited with forging the so-called black Friday “tradition,” and retail businesses has been perfecting it ever since. And, in case it matters, Hoover was a Republican and FDR was a Democrat – so the whole holiday shopping craze, distasteful as it may be to some, is actually very “bi-partisan.”
B) Even though the fussing is happening today, Thanksgiving Day shopping started last year: I don’t recall seeing or hearing the “war on the American family” last year. But national retailers Aeropostale, Banana Republic, Big Lots, CVS, Family Dollar, The Gap, Kmart, Old Navy, Sears, Sony, Starbucks, Target, Toys'R'Us, Walgreens and Whole Foods were just a few of the businesses that began newly expanded Thanksgiving Day operational hours in November of 2012. Why is this suddenly offensive now?
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.