Gone are the days of tents outside of Best Buy and snatching bargains from the hands of children. Recently, many large retail stores have been closed on Thanksgiving Day.
And consumers should show solidarity with fellow workers rather than complain about the closures.
This is especially true since these closures aren’t the result of employees wanting to spend the holidays at home. They are the sign of a suffering economy.
Some shoppers may be frustrated, but in-person retail is struggling to recover from pandemic lows while e-commerce continues to surge. From 2016 to 2020 e-commerce sales doubled, going from $297 billion in 2016 to $795 billion in 2020.
“The proliferation of online shopping, combined with retailers’ desire to avoid the bad press that inevitably followed clips of brawling customers tussling over TVs, had led to a dilution of the extreme-sports nature of the day,” wrote Journalist Martha C. White in an article for NBC business news.
The beginning of the pandemic in early 2020 caused increased suffering for the retail industry. Sales at clothing stores, furniture and home stores, and general merchandise stores tanked from February to April.
Additionally, retailers began to offer holiday deals as early as September and will be open the days following Thanksgiving Day. As a result, most consumers have already started their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving according to a poll by Satista.
Therefore, in the latter half of 2020, some retailers chose not to open on Thanksgiving Day or Black Friday knowing that many shoppers would be staying home.
With online shopping and the pandemic straining stores, it is no surprise that many are keeping their doors closed.
This decision is not the result of benevolent employers wanting to give their workers a day off, but low foot traffic and a higher labor cost.
Plus, not all employees want to spend the holidays at home. Some don’t observe Thanksgiving, while others benefit from augmented holiday wages.
Emanuel Ceja, who works in the kitchen at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia, California, chose to spend the day at work. He distributed food to hungry families in addition to his regular duty of feeding patients.
Ceja was “excited to give people food” even though he himself does not celebrate Thanksgiving.
“Since I work in a hospital, I don’t expect the needs of patients to subside for a specific day,” Ceja said. “Being an essential worker doesn’t get its name for nothing.”