Editor’s Note: Giving Thanks … and Slowing Down Greed1 Dec, 2012 By: Thomas Haire Response
“Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow, Will find it hard to sleep tonight.” — The Christmas Song
My favorite of all holiday tunes, Nat King Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song” — perhaps better known from its opening line, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …” — presents some of the most wonderful imagery of the season, sure to take many of us back to those Decembers long past.
Unfortunately, the imagery captured outside brick-and-mortar retailers this past Thanksgiving night presented the world with the near-direct opposite. On Thursday, November 22, many Americans spent the best part of their day with their families giving thanks for the important things — family, friends and love. Then, beginning that night, many of the same folks spent much of the next 24 hours battling — sometimes violently — for “discounts” on mostly unnecessary consumer goods.
Yes — I know I edit a magazine for marketers that is read by retailers. And I know we spent much time covering so-called Black Friday and Cyber Monday results in our E-newsletter. That’s our job, and I am happy to have it. Unlike many cynics, I’ve spent enough time covering this business to know that most marketers and retailers are committed to doing their jobs to the best of their abilities to provide consumers with the best possible products and prices. This undoubtedly spurs the economy and ensures that consumers get the goods and services they need to survive.
Still, it sickens the heart just a bit to see the festival of — well, let’s call it what it is — greed take place in such close proximity to what should be a time of reflection. Thanksgiving isn’t just a four-day weekend for all of us to go out and snap up bargains. It’s supposed to be about something bigger than that.
While I understand that the Black Friday-to-Cyber Monday shopping event is here to stay, I wonder what the real value of opening stores at 8 p.m. (or earlier) on the Thanksgiving holiday actually is? It certainly has no benefit to the mostly underpaid employees of big box retailers — and it clearly causes many of those early shoppers to forget why they have the day off in the first place.
I can hardly imagine it having much of a negative effect to retailers, marketers or shoppers to hold off until that Friday morning next year and in years to come. Do I think that will happen? Not at all.
Still, I ask you to take a few moments to reflect on it. Maybe instead of opening shopping doors for pure greed next Thanksgiving night, marketers and retailers can band together to promote something more selfless, something more giving — say a charitable event that allows those early shoppers to buy gifts in a drive for those less fortunate? It certainly wouldn’t take much to turn something that leaves a sour taste into something much sweeter.
Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season and all the best in 2013!
— Thomas Haire, Editor-in-Chief