Thanksgiving Day shopping battle

Have retailers, shoppers gone too far?

DETROIT - While many consumers have already begun checking-off purchases from their holiday gift-giving lists, Black Friday used to be the official start of the seasonal spending.

However, many retailers are now looking to start their doorbuster battle even earlier, on the actual Thanksgiving Holiday.

"Every retailer wants to get the season off to a good start," said The Michigan Retailers Association's Tom Scott

He says, when the economy crashed, retailers started raising the stakes, looking new strategies to make more money.

"A little bit earlier, a little bit earlier. Come up with a little bit more of a promotion to catch people's attention, and now yank them away from the Thanksgiving table in order to go shopping," said Scott.

Most of the big chain retailers will be open for at least a few hours this Thanksgiving Day. Kmart, Walmart, Target, Sears, and Toys "R" Us will all take part.

The Backlash

The expansion of holiday hours has some employees up in arms. One Target employee started an online petition against the idea and some Walmart workers have even threatened to walk out.

Some support for the retail employees has come from the very people the stores hope to have beating a path down their store aisle and up to their registers: shoppers.

"I think that's wrong. I think you should be home with your family," shopper David Friese said of the controversial work hours.

Jenny Wayton, of Northville, says, "I think its terrible. I think people should have Thanksgiving off."

Retailer support

Other shoppers were less sympathetic to the workers' protests.

"That's a good idea, but they're in the wrong profession," said Audrey McGee.

Marie Holden doesn't shop on Thanksgiving, but respects the decision of stores to stay open during the turkey-carving.

"Businesses, especially in a hard economy, need to make hard decisions," she said.

Sticking to the Old Ways

Even with the incentive to make more money, not all companies are making the decision to open on Thanksgiving. Nordstrom is one store closing for the holiday. According to the upscale retailer, its commitment is to giving employees the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with a day off.

Several shoppers we spoke to outside the Nordstrom at Twelve Oaks Mall agree with that plan.

"Everybody needs a day off, you know, let's give it a whole day's rest and then start up on Friday," said Flossie Anderson, of Bloomfield.

Give the people what they want

Most of the people who spoke to to the Ruth to the Rescue team said they won't shop this Thanksgiving and don't really want the stores to be open.

"I understand that some places have to be open, gas stations, you know, places like that, but people can wait until Friday morning to get a bargain," said Jenny Wayton.

Roger Chapman, of Farmington Hills, says, "The season is long enough that I think you could start on Friday and still be okay."

So, is there a disconnect between shoppers and stores in Metro Detroit? Scott says there are plenty of people willing to shop or the stores would close.

"What we're seeing is people like to shop when they have time or when its a festive time to do it, and I think that's what's driving the popularity of it," Scott said.

But, will Scott, who represents Michigan retailers, be out there shopping when the scent of stuffing and pumpkin pie is in the air?

"I'm a throwback, I'm a traditionalist. I stay home," he said.

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