If Thanksgiving is a day on which people should be at home with their families, many large retailers have ignored that. The Thanksgiving weekend is too precious a period to have stores closed. While some large retailers are satisfied with opening on the midnight that starts Black Friday, others have begun hours well before that to catch early shoppers. Employees and some portion of the public believe it is cruel to work on those days. Among them are 44,000 people who signed a petition to keep J.C. Penney Co. Inc. (NYSE: JCP) closed for Thanksgiving.
J.C. Penney is one of the country’s most troubled large retailers, still trying to dig out from a double-digit same-store sales collapse three years ago. Other troubled retailers, among them Macy’s Inc. (NYSE: M) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT), need to have strong holidays to save their positions as viable retailers, based on investor opinion. That makes the industry hyper-competitive over a time that many experts believe will be a slow holiday.
As a protest due to J.C. Penney opening at 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving, one group has tried to use a petition signed by over 44,000 to make J.C. Penney change its mind about hours:
“Thanksgiving is one of the few days per year when we are all given an opportunity to pause our busy lives and enjoy the company of our family and friends. Unfortunately, this opportunity will not be extended to J.C. Penney employees,” petition author Chris Wolverton told Care2. “Last year, despite stores opening early on Thanksgiving, sales dropped 11 percent. JCPenney can afford to give its employees the night off, and its public image will be bolstered by demonstrating it values employees’ relaxation and personal time.”
The situation is not so simple. Some workers want to be working on Thanksgiving. They need the money, and the chance to be in their stores that day allows them to add to their holiday earnings. Since typical retail store employees make very little, the holidays are the only time of the year they can improve their financial situations.
Care2 protesters may have a point, but it is not universally shared by either stores or their workers.