Austin Hill

Could it be that this backlash against retailers is yet another case of selective outrage in America? Retailers are the target of people’s anger right now, but most of us don’t really want everybody to avoid working on Thanksgiving Day, or any other day for that matter.

And 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-five 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.

And guess what? All this “holiday shopping” zealotry is not new. Converging Thanksgiving Day, the “holiday” season and retail shopping all together 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 successor 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. The recent developments with Target Stores, Toys R Us, Macy’s and Bed Bath and Beyond amount only to the latest chapter in a long American story. 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.”

Instead of being outraged with retailers who are trying to make money, have you considered being thankful that millions of our fellow Americans are willing to work on Thanksgiving Day, and in all different lines of work? And how about being thankful that our economy is still so incredibly functional that most of us have plenty of products from which to choose on the store shelves, and we can shop – or not shop – on most any day of the week?

Instead of outrage, let’s give thanks. That’s the best possible way to observe the holiday.


Austin Hill

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.