Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Shopping on Thanksgiving Day. Tsk, tsk. (At least now we know who to blame for it…)

Me, I believe that there should be a couple of days a year when stores are closed.

I know it’s impossible in the era of online shopping – all those folks with a shopping jones, all those online shopping opportunities (pushers feeding the shopping jones, as it were). But if retail stores could at least keep the shutters shuttered on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that store clerks could have a holiday off? After all, it’s not like they’re nurses or firefighters or otherwise serving a function that requires someone being on duty 24/365.

But, no.

The madness that had crept into stores having to open at midnight on Thanksgiving night is now contaminating the very day itself.

But apparently it’s what the shoppers want.

Come on! Who needs to go shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

Seriously, doesn’t it strike you as a bit odd that someone who has no place to go on Turkey Day has such serious Christmas shopping to do that they have to start on Thanksgiving?

Who are these shoppers who need to get into the stores on Thanksgiving Day itself?

If you can believe Money, it’s the millennials.

According to one national survey from the loyalty marketing and customer analytics firm LoyaltyOne, only one-third of the overall population thinks that “stores being open all day Thanksgiving is a great idea.” However, roughly half of those ages 18 to 24 say it’s “great” for stores to be open on the national holiday, while 48% of consumers ages 25 to 34 are also on board with the idea. Among folks ages 55 and up, by contrast, only 16% think all-day store hours on Thanksgiving is a wonderful idea. (Source: Time/Money.)

Another poll showed pretty much the same.

…millennials are more likely than other generations to say they’ll be shopping this Thanksgiving. Two-thirds of those ages 18 to 34 say they plan to shop on the holiday—in store, online, or both—compared to 51% of consumers ages 35 to 54 and only 30% of the 55+ category.

Well, I suppose that retailers have to cater to those who enjoy shopping, which apparently the millennials do.

For one thing, a broader look at millennial consumer behavior shows that a big reason this group is eager to jump on board with shopping on Thanksgiving is that young people like the idea of shopping pretty much every day.

I can’t get too huffy here.

When I was in my teens, I wasn’t much of a shopper. Having no money didn’t help, but I really wasn’t all that interested, anyway. I had better things to do. And there just wasn’t as much stuff out there to be had.

But in my twenties, and well beyond, I was something of a shopping hobbyist.

Going shopping was fun, it was an outing with the girls, something to do on a Saturday.

When I worked downtown, I would “cruise The B” – i.e., check out Filene’s Basement – pretty much every day.

When I worked in the burbs, it was easy enough to pop into the nearest mall on the way home and by something I didn’t need: yet another periwinkle blue sweater, yet another cute bowl from Crate & Barrel.

So I can’t put too much blame on the millennials.

Someday they’ll realize that they have enough stuff. Just not yet.

And, after all, as the article points out, they’re not apt to be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner, and may be just as happy to get out of the house as listen to Uncle Harry snore it off in front of a football game, or Aunt Bertha reveal the secret to her parsnip puree.

Interesting thing about those millennials, though.

When asked if they thought stores should be open so that they could shop, they were all in.

But when the question about holiday store openings was framed differently, so was the response:

In yet another holiday consumer poll, 77% of Americans ages 18 to 39 said that “retail stores should not be open on Thanksgiving Day so that employees can enjoy time with their friends and family.”

Having been a sales girl – as we were called before someone came up with the notion of “associate” – who worked seasonally, I would have hated to have to work on Thanksgiving. Bad enough having to go in and sell umbrellas and writing paper the day after.

But to paraphrase Taylor Swift, shoppers gotta shop, shop, shop.

Me, I’m taking tomorrow off from shopping.

Easy for me to say and do: other than my Yankee Swap item, I’m pretty well done, anyway.

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