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More Employers to Open Thanksgiving This Year and Even More In 2014

by Oct 16, 2013, 5:49 am ET

2014 federal holiday surveyNext month, when daylight savings time ends and you set your clocks back, please also adjust your calendar to note that Black Friday now begins at 8 p.m. on Turkey Thursday.

The announcement this week by Macy’s that it will open at 8 Thanksgiving night ends a 155-year tradition by the giant retailer to close its stores on the fourth Thursday of November. Now, Macy’s joins Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, and Kmart in opening its doors to shoppers Thanksgiving.

The trend toward earlier and earlier openings on the day after Thanksgiving, for what is the busiest retail shopping day of the year, started with dawn openings, then moved to  pre-dawn, and then to midnight. Deep discounts and loss-leaders brought out crowds of shoppers, who would line up hours in advance.

In 2011, Toys R Us pushed the opening to Thursday night. Following its lead, other retailers quickly did the same. So rapidly has this trend grown the Society for Human Resource Management predicts the number of businesses opening on Thanksgiving 2014 will grow five fold.

For the last few years, SHRM has surveyed its members about the holidays and paid time off employees will enjoy in the coming year. Last year, SHRM’s survey of some 565 businesses found 99 percent of them expected to be closed on Thanksgiving Day 2013. On the day after, 71 percent expected to be closed.

This year’s survey reported that 5 percent of the employers expect to open Thanksgiving 2014. About 1 percent will close early that day, leaving 94 percent to observe a traditional day off. Black Friday 2014, will see 66 percent of the employers open; 32 percent will give their employees the day off.

Is this really evidence of the retail trend toward holiday openings, or just a statistical quirk? SHRM’s annual days-off survey has typically had some variability in the percentages of employers closing or opening on the nation’s religious and secular holidays. However, looking back over the surveys, the shift for Thanksgiving openings has been fairly small — not more than a single percentage point. That is until this year’s survey, which was conducted over the summer.

The survey asked about other holidays, including the total number of paid holidays employers provide for workers. According to SHRM, 78 percent of employers provide 6-10 paid holidays for full-timers, while 41 percent offer that many for their part-timers.

Seasona hiring 1999-2012In another report, this one from the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the outlook for seasonal hiring this year is good, but not great. The firm says retailers “are likely to at best match the level of hiring that occurred in October, November, and December 2012.” The 751,800 seasonal help hired by retailers during that period last year was the largest number since 2000, the firm reported.

“There are several factors that could keep holiday hiring from reaching last year’s level.  While, the economy and job market are improving, it has now been four years since the recession officially ended and millions of Americans are still unemployed or underemployed. As a result, consumers remain uneasy, which is evidenced by wide monthly mood swings in confidence surveys,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Another factor is the shorter shopping season. There are six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared to last year. In addition Chanukah, the Jewish holiday of lights, which includes eight days of gift-giving, especially for children, begins the day before Thanksgiving, weeks earlier than usual.

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Richard Araujo

    Whether it’s evidence or a statistical quirk or not is actually irrelevant. People don’t think in strictly rational terms, so what matters is that it’s Thanksgiving and people are working instead of spending time with their families. Were our economy not managed to such an extent to give employers such a distinct advantage over employees, I’d not care. It would likely be minimal and more a matter of choice. However, the reality is we do live in a managed economy where employers have the edge. And they are using it in a very visible and annoying way, which to me is just more evidence of a poor economy where employees have less and less choice available for work, and less bargaining power within the options they do have open to them.

  • Keith Halperin

    A modest proposal: retailers should simply open at 12:00 AM on Thanksgiving and stay open around the clock until their sales are over, with perhaps the deepest discounts from 12:00 PM-9:00 PM on Thanksgiving

    :(

    Keith

  • Richard Araujo

    My modest proposal would be people stop buying so much useless crap, stop lining up like animals at stores, smashing up against the doors like idiots, stop getting yet one more George Foreman Grill, and spend some damn time with their families. I remember working retail back when I was still in college. Black Friday was a damn nightmare, getting to the store so early and seeing all those animals lined up, pressed against the glass of the doors with looks on their faces like heaven itself was on the other side. It disgusted me then, it still does to this day.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Richard: I like our George Foreman grill- we use it every week, sometimes more than once! Besides, what so bad about rioting worshippers at the Temple of Mammon? The consumer economy makes up 70% of the GDP. If people only bought what they need or can reasonably afford- then where would we be?

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • Richard Araujo

    Problem there is that consumer spending isn’t 70% of the actual spending done in the economy. There’s tons of non automatic and highly contingent business-to-business expenditures that simply get canceled out in the calculation of GDP. When you break those out, consumer spending is usually a third or less of the actual bills raised and settled during any given time period. There’s a financial guy, Sean Corrigan I believe, who’s done a few breakdowns of GDP to illustrate this point.

    My overall point really was just that this push to squeeze more and more out of workers is yet another sign that the economy, despite protestations to the contrary, is not doing better. When labor gets more bargaining power and begins to counter some of these trends, then the economy will be getting better, because that is an indicator that labor is in demand and therefore going up in value. People buying more ‘stuff’ at the consumer level, and the facilitation of that, is not in and of itself a good thing. Throw unlimited credit at any doofus and he’ll give his own personal economy plenty of spending ‘stimulus’ until he ends up broke and in debt once the cards are cut off, and definitely not better off.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Richard: I’ve seen other analyses which say that the 70% is close to correct at least in 2007: PCE’s share of GDP in the third quarters of 1977, 1987, 1997 and 2007 were 62.5, 65.9, 66.7 and 69.5 percent, respectively (http://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/re/articles/?id=2201) or that it’s more likely 60%(http://dmarron.com/2010/06/25/consumer-spending-is-60-of-the-economy-not-70/). Still, the economy IS getting better for those who matter- the *top 1.0%, or those who REALLY matter- the top 0.1%. It’s their country; we just live here by their good graces. The more we become indebted to them getting things we don’t need and can’t afford, the more compliant we’ll be.

    No Cheers,

    Keith

    * As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth (http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html)

    **The rising concentration of income can be seen in a special New York Times analysis by David Cay Johnston of an Internal Revenue Service report on income in 2004. Although overall income had grown by 27% since 1979, 33% of the gains went to the top 1%. Meanwhile, the bottom 60% were making less: about 95 cents for each dollar they made in 1979. The next 20% – those between the 60th and 80th rungs of the income ladder — made $1.02 for each dollar they earned in 1979. Furthermore, Johnston concludes that only the top 5% made significant gains ($1.53 for each 1979 dollar). Most amazing of all, the top 0.1% — that’s one-tenth of one percent — had more combined pre-tax income than the poorest 120 million people (Johnston, 2006).(http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html)

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Richard, I’ve seen various analyses: some people (http://dmarron.com/2010/06/25/consumer-spending-is-60-of-the-economy-not-70/) say it’s not 70%, some people (http://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/re/articles/?id=2201) say it is.

    At any rate, the economy IS getting better for those that matter- the top 1%, and those that REALLY matter- the top 0.1%
    (http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html). It’s their country, we just live here by their good graces. The more indebted people become buying what they don’t need and can’t afford, the more compliant they’ll be.

    No Cheers,

    Keith