Editorial: Is it really Thanksgiving if you are standing in a shopping line?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season is in full swing, and we all know what that means — Black Friday shopping. Not only is Black Friday starting to become a holiday itself, it seems to be seriously encroaching on the actual holiday that precedes it. Thanksgiving is a time-honored tradition in most households. However, in recent years it seems that the meals are being cut short to spend time in a department store line. Suddenly, getting the best bargain has replaced getting seconds on dessert. This all leads to a very important question: When is enough, enough?

As this holiday season approached, many stores released their updated holiday operating hours. It came as quite a shock to many people the amount of stores that decided to open on Thanksgiving Day. No longer is it enough to open in the pre-dawn hours of Black Friday. In an effort to drive more sales and produce more profit, stores not only in Columbia, but the rest of the country, decided to open their doors on Thanksgiving. Not only does this take employees away from their families during the holiday, it sets an example to everyone that this is okay.

I was shocked to see the amount of advertising used in the Columbia Mall to promote stores opening on Nov. 27. According to VisitColumbiaMall.com, a total of 55 stores opened their doors to shoppers Thanksgiving Day with many of them opening by 6 p.m. — when most families were starting their evening meal.

Many employees were forced to choose which family events to attend, and which to miss, in order to make their scheduled shift on time. I have been in this position before, and it is a difficult one to be in.

However, I am repeatedly shocked by the number of consumers who accept these conditions and continue to stand in lines for hours on end to make their purchases. Not only are we as a society giving those companies exactly what they are looking for, also we are saying it is okay for corporations to encroach on our holidays.

There are some companies that refused to join the trend of opening earlier and earlier. Stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, Barnes & Noble, and Dillard’s remained closed Thanksgiving Day to allow employees time with their families. It is this small gesture that consumers such as myself take note of. These stores, more than likely, still brought in high profits on Black Friday, just not at the expense of their workers. We need more companies, such as these, to see family values as a higher priority in the workplace. Then, and only then, will they realize that holidays are not meant for working or shopping, they are meant for spending time with loved ones.

While I was not one of those people waiting out in the cold Thanksgiving night for a TV or KitchenAid mixer, I can understand why, each year, so many stores make their opening hours earlier and earlier. Each year, the lines at those stores are longer and longer. It only makes sense, from a management standpoint, to keep moving up the opening time if customers make it worth the effort. As long as profits continue to increase and sales skyrocket in those early morning hours, companies have a logical reason for outrageous schedules. CEOs who are given valid reasoning to open their stores at extreme hours will not hesitate to do so. I understand that and, if I was in that position, I might make the same choice.

As a society, we have evolved to no longer view Sunday as a day of rest and time for family. It is just one more day to make a profit. The same thing is happening to holidays. More and more stores are staying open on national holidays, viewing them as just another day. We as consumers need to decide where to draw the line. If we allow them to open their stores on Thanksgiving, who is to say Christmas isn’t next? I believe enough is enough, and we should take back the holidays we hold most dear.

Sarah Goellner

About the Author

My name is Sarah Goellner, and I am currently a science and ag journalism major at the University of Missouri. I received my associate degree from Moberly Area Community College before transferring to MU. I grew up in Palmyra, Missouri, with an older sister, Rebecca. Agriculture has deep roots in my family. My uncles’ and cousins’ farms surrounded my home, and I was always included in the daily activities. I was deeply involved 4-H and FFA throughout my childhood. I have always had an interest in writing and journalism. After graduation, I hope to be able to communicate and market the field of agriculture to a large audience. I am excited to work for Corner Post for the third semester because it will give me more experience needed to pursue my future career. I look forward to adding more stories to my portfolio in order to gain a career in the agricultural marketing field upon graduation.