Monday, November 22, 2010

Sears to Open on Thanksgiving Day - A Precedent Set for Other Major Retailers?

A few days ago I received a press release that Sears will open their doors on Thanksgiving Day.  That news arrived in my inbox with the jubilant headline, "For the first time, Sears will join Kmart by welcoming customers to shop on Thanksgiving Day."

That's right.  For the first time ever, Sears -- a part of Americana formerly known as Sears Roebuck & Co. that I remember fondly shopping with my own mother and father when I was a kid in the 1960s -- will be open for the first time ever this Thursday, from 7 am - noon.  Kmart, by the way, which is also owned by Sears Holdings has been open to consumers for shopping on Turkey Day for nearly 19 years and will be open this year from 6 am - 9 pm.

Pulling My Big Brother on Our Sled Up Our Street's Hill
Both of Us Are Wearing Winter Coats from Sears, Circa 1961
Photo by MommyBlogExpert's Daddy

According to the latest news that Sears distributed, their stores will be open on Thanksgiving, "To provide families with an extra day to shop and take advantage of exceptional deals before the busy holiday shopping season begins."  Sears backs up that decision to get a head start ahead of Black Friday saying that their customers have indicated to them that they desire another day to get all their holiday shopping done.

I'm glad that people who want to shop rather than spend time with relatives and friends on the most family-centric, non-denominational holiday of the year will have that option.  They'll certainly have some great Sears deals like Covington cotton sweaters for $8.99 (reg. $42) and luggage for $9.99 (reg. 39.99) to take advantage of and Kmart shoppers will have some similarly spectacular one-day only buys such a Vivitar 10.1MP digital camera for only $39.99.  

At either store, quite possibly, Thanksgiving Day treasure hunters might miss the crowds who are at home with their families, at least until the super early sales start up on Friday morning.   And, though I do feel just a little sorry for those who have to work at Sears and Kmart this Thursday, I'm assuming that they'll all be doing so somewhat gladly (as either volunteers from the regular staff or seasonal employees) since they'll be earning double or triple pay for working on the holiday.  In the down economy we are all experiencing, these workers will have the chance to earn some badly needed income right now and assumingly they will appreciate that extra cash flow greatly. That's the up side.

However, with all pros there are cons, too.  As a Baby Boomer growing up, I recall that many of the national major department stores like Sears and their arch rival Montgomery Wards were closed not only on Thanksgiving, but on Christmas, Easter, and New Years Days as well.  Those days were designated family days then and both workers and shoppers were expected to be at home with their kin, unless they worked in an essential profession like medicine, firefighting and law enforcement, or a few scant others.  

What I fear -- along with others -- is that this Sears store opening event could set a precedent whereby Thanksgiving Day shopping goes the way of other legal holidays like News Year's, Labor Day, Veteran's Day and President's Day sales which usually are open to shoppers even on all those holidays.  The most serious threat, though, I fear is that kids growing up today and in future generations might lose all sight of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  If other stores follow suit and store openings on Thanksgiving become the norm rather than the exception, there's a real danger that youth risk lacking not only an understanding of the holiday's pivotal role in American history, but also robbing them of the most traditional day of the year in modern times for American families to gather.

Interestingly, a footnote in the news release that inspired me to write this post states that, "Sears and Kmart stores in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Puerto Rico will not be open on Thanksgiving Day, per their respective state laws."  I don't know the reasoning behind the laws that forbid store openings in Puerto Rico on Thanksgiving, but in the other places -- all three U.S. states were part of the original 13 Colonies -- the answer is likely deeply steeped in historical implications.

What about online shopping on Thanksgiving?  Sure you'll be able to buy online from or on Thursday.  But you'll also be able to shop online at a seemingly endless sea of other shops large and small, too, because mostly they're open 365 days per year.

Can't wait to hear what you think.  Are you for or against brick and mortar store openings like Sears and Kmart are doing on Thanksgiving Day?  Is there really any difference between shopping at a physical store and surfing on your laptop, iPhone or Blackberry during Thanksgiving dinner or is there a double-standard where the later is acceptable and the former is not?  Please leave a comment below this post and share your opinions.

FTC Disclosure:  As disclosed above, my family and I have been Sears customers in the past.  However, MommyBlogExpert did not receive any payment or other compensation associated with this particular post.   See complete FTC Disclosure information that appears at the bottom of MommyBlogExpert's main page and at the bottom of every individual post on this blog, including this one. 

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