The Decline of An American Tradition
   Thanksgiving in the United States is a long standing tradition traced as far back as 1621 at Plymouth in present day Massachusetts. Originally based on the European festival to celebrate the crop cycles and to give thanks for a bountiful harvest, the thanksgiving feast was shared together with family and community. Over the years, this secular, mostly non-religious and now public holiday, has evolved. Today, this national celebration …….“Black Friday” has grown to become the busiest shopping day of the year
is linked to the elements of dinners with family & friends, turkey, pumpkin pie, the Macy’s parade with Santa Claus making his first appearance of the season and of course, National Football League games.

   The day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States is labelled “Black Friday” and signals the kick-off of the American retail Christmas selling season. It is generally understood that “Black Friday” marks the beginning of the period during which retailers start to turn a profit or “become in the black financially.” Most employers give their employees the day after Thanksgiving off, so that they can enjoy a four day weekend with their families. The retail industry has responded to the opportunity of potential increased traffic by creating an event that is symbolized by big sales, aggressive markdowns, “loss leader” pricing and huge savings for the consumer. As a result “Black Friday” has grown to become the busiest shopping day of the year . Recently retailers have started to shift their operating hours earlier to maximize the sales potential and capitalize on this retail event. The shift has occurred from a norm of 8:00AM opening, to last year’s norm of a 4:00AM kick-off by most retailers. This year, given the challenging and competitive retail environment in the USA, retailers such as Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Best Buy have announced plans that they will be open at midnight on “Black Friday”. Midnight has become the new normal opening standard for this holiday season.

BUT WAIT!! Last week the Gap announced that they will be opening approximately 80% of their 958 stores in the USA on Thanksgiving Day. For those Gap front-line employees and managers, this decision has basically cancelled any Thanksgiving plans that they may have made with their families and friends. How long will it take the other retailers to counter the Gap move by opening on Thanksgiving themselves? Everyone understands that the US economy and particularly retail sales have been tough but the impact on the retail employees’ families will not be appreciated and will result in just another business issue that the Gap will need to resolve, in addition to their poor sales – employee morale. That is one big TURKEY!!!



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