While most people enjoyed traditional feasts and family gatherings this Thanksgiving, many retail workers had to compromise their plans to work during the Black Friday frenzy. Stores that were previously closed on the holiday, like Best Buy and Target, opened late Thanksgiving afternoon this year.
SF State student Caesar Juarez has worked at the Macy’s in Union Square for four months and said this was the second year in a row the department store opened at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Although Juarez was not scheduled for Thanksgiving evening, he needed to come in later that night to prepare for the Black Friday sales.
“Everyone is just bummed that it’s open on Thanksgiving night,” Juarez said. “It ruined a lot of people’s plans.”
SF State economics professor Venoo Kakar cited a variety of factors for the trend of pushing Black Friday into Thursday.
“The time consumers spend on shopping is highly correlated with sales revenues,” Kakar said. “Stores are aware that the economy is stronger than last year and a few factors like consumer confidence and consumer credit are back to pre-recession levels. The bottom line is that stores are just exploiting these different opportunities to boost sales and increase market share by opening earlier and earlier.”
According to second-year S.F. State student and Target employee Anthony Perez, most employees at his store do not want to work on Thanksgiving Day, but have no choice because of the demands of the holiday shopping season.
“Some of them are much older, and are not going to school like I am, but have a second job,” Perez said. “A lot of my co-workers are working from 5:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving day to 2 a.m., which can be very draining and takes away a lot of their time which could have been spent with their families.”
Theater student Geoffrey Malveaux, who also works at Macy’s, had to cut short his family’s Thanksgiving dinner in Sacramento to get to work on time.
Despite this, Malveaux said working on Thanksgiving Day has its perks, including the time-and-a-half holiday pay for working on Thanksgiving night that he will receive. Both Malveaux and Juarez were excited to work on Black Friday, which is usually the biggest day of the year for retail commissions at stores like Macy’s.
Other student workers would rather save their vacation days for the Christmas holidays, like senior Niike Andino who put in his regular hours as a receptionist for Airbnb on Thanksgiving Day for this reason.
“I wasn’t planning on doing anything on Thanksgiving because I’m getting off at 10 p.m.,” Andino said. “Pretty much every year, if someone wants time off for Thanksgiving, I’m more than willing to take it.”
According to Kakar, a quarter of Americans work on Thanksgiving Day, and 44.8 million Americans shopped on the holiday last year.
“It seems like working on Thanksgiving for employees at some retailers is not an ‘option,'” Kakar said.