To Open, or Not to Open?

It’s become quite a hot topic lately, hasn’t it? In every forum from Facebook to Twitter, in letters to the editor, and surely at the water cooler, folks are either lashing out against, or showing their support for, retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. Because it’s a subject that affects this site, I thought this would be the perfect place to offer my opinion on the subject.

First of all, either argument, whether pro or con, carries less weight than most shoppers might think. For those shopping online especially, there will be deals throughout the month of November and probably until mid-December that are every bit as good as those you see on November 27th. Shopping on the actual day of Black Friday, or in this case the day before, has lost some significance because of this. Believe us, you’re unlikely to miss too much if you don’t shop on Thanksgiving.

However, I understand and appreciate both perspectives. Those against Thanksgiving Day openings argue in favor of all-important family time, and wish that less shoppers headed out to spend on a day which carries a familial importance like few others, and many of us view as a significant opportunity to spend time with those we love.

The other perspective, also valid of course, argues that the opportunity to shop, and especially to save should be available that day, just as it is on every other day of the year. “If the stores want to open, why shouldn’t they?” is the common refrain we hear.

Of course there’s less right or wrong here than might be apparent. I for one believe that businesses should be allowed to operate as they deem fit, provided that they do so without violating laws that protect consumers. Though surely plenty of companies have behaved improperly and even illegally in the past, opening on Thanksgiving is nothing close to “wrong.” Where some might view opening on this day an attempt to pull people from their families, I tend to see it as an attempt to produce as much revenue as possible out of every opportunity, something that every well-run business, from a lemonade stand to a retail store, must do to survive in the very difficult retail market of today.

But most importantly, I have no issue with a store opening on Thanksgiving Day or any other day of the year they choose to do business because no business, whether retail or otherwise, should be responsible for how much time we spend with our families. We are not required to shop on Thanksgiving any more than we are obligated to stay home.

There is no reason we should thank retailers for not opening if they don’t, because if they do so it isn’t because they like you or care about your family. Likewise, we shouldn’t lambaste them for choosing to open their doors, because it’s incredibly unlikely that the store has thought much about your quality time. No matter how much you like a store, I’m pretty sure they’re not worried much about how much time you spend with your family. Those things simply don’t enter the conversation when these things are decided in boardrooms. This isn’t an indictment. It’s simply reality.

As for myself, that Thursday in November is important. I take a rare break from working on this site and spend the large part of the day eating, watching football, playing with my nieces and nephews, and enjoying the company of my family. Not only will I not leave to go see if there were any great deals at one of the local stores, but I won’t even turn on my computer more than once or twice (just to ensure that it hasn’t disappeared) in those 24 hours. For me, that time is more precious than any deal.

What I’m saying is that, as is often the case in life, you have a choice here. You can choose to shop and have yourself a wonderful time (of course there is no reason you can’t do this WITH your family) or stay at home as I do. Regardless, with life being short and all, I recommend only that you enjoy whichever choice you make. I think that’s what really matters here.