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Black Friday: Thousands petition Target to 'Save Thanksgiving'

November 22, 2011 | 11:15 am

Target_shoppers
Black Friday is supposed to be a shopping bonanza for retailers. But it's causing a public relations headache for one of the biggest retailers out there.

An online petition is targeting Target, with more than 194,000 people so far urging the retail giant to "Save Thanksgiving" and resist the urge to compete with other stores that are opening earlier and earlier in a bid to compete for precious consumer dollars. The petition was launched at Change.org by Anthony Hardwick, a Nebraska man, who says enough is enough:

"A midnight opening robs the hourly and in-store salary workers of time off with their families on Thanksgiving Day. By opening the doors at midnight, Target is requiring team members to be in the store by 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. A full holiday with family is not just for the elite of this nation -- all Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones and get a good night's rest on Thanksgiving!

Join me in calling for Target retail stores to push back their original opening time of 5am on Black Friday."

But Target isn't the only store throwing open its doors earlier than ever. Other big retailers — including Best Buy Co., Macy's Inc. and Kohl's Corp. — have decided for the first time to open at midnight. And then there's Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer, which will for the first time launch its holiday sale kickoff at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.

It's leading some to say that Black Thursday is the new Black Friday.

Because of the trend, Target didn't have much of a choice, says Anahita Cameron, a Target human resources director for the northern region of the country.

"The decision to open at midnight on Black Friday was not one we took lightly," she said in a media statement. "As that is the busiest shopping day of the year, it is imperative that we be competitive. Our guests have expressed that they would prefer to kick off their holiday shopping by heading out after their holiday celebrations rather than getting up in the middle of the night."

Target insists this does not pose a hardship for employees, and that many workers actually enjoy the Black Friday weekend shifts.

"At every single Target store, the majority of our team members enjoy working on Black Friday and want to be there for the opening," Tina Schiel, executive vice president of Target stores, said in an internal question-and-answer released to the media. She added: "It’s an event that’s just part of the retail culture. When I heard from several stores that news of the midnight opening was met with enthusiasm from the majority of our team members, I wasn’t surprised one bit. While it’s hard work, there’s just this great frenetic energy about the day. Put simply: It’s a lot of fun."

RELATED:

Thanksgiving travel on the rise

Black Thursday replacing Black Friday

Shopping by smartphone this holiday seasons

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Customers shop at a Super Target store in Denver. Credit: Matthew Staver / Bloomberg

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