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(by Brian Springer) In an effort to squeeze every last dollar from consumers, year-after- year retailers have opened earlier and earlier encroaching into the Thanksgiving Day holiday causing employees to sacrifice their holiday and family-time.

This year retailers have gone even further.  A whole slew of companies have broken the barrier and are now opening Thanksgiving night or earlier. Enough is enough. The craziness must stop.

Walmart and BestBuy will be opening at 6:00 pm Thanksgiving night. Toys ”R” Us will open at 5:00 pm- three hours earlier than last year. And not to be outdone, Sears, Target, Macy’s, Kohl’s and JC Penny all will open at 8:00 pm.  Office supply retailers, Staples, Office Depot and Office Max, aren’t sitting this out either; all will open at 8:00 pm on Thursday.

This year Kmart is taking an extreme position by opening at 6:00 am Thanksgiving morning and will remain open for 41 hours straight - until 11 pm Friday.

So what’s the harm? Consumers get good deals and retailers get customers. However these deals come at the expense of the Thanksgiving holiday; its traditions and family-time. Additionally, this year Hanukah and Thanksgiving fall on the same day which certainly means some people will lose out on both holidays and traditions.

When a store is open it has to be staffed with managers, clerks, maintenance, security and many others; all of whom have to adjust their holiday visiting around store hours. Although 8:00 pm sounds like enough time to enjoy the holiday, that wouldn’t leave enough time for someone to travel three or four hours to see family, enjoy their visit and get some rest.

If the store is open most of or all Thanksgiving night, to make it through their shift, those working have to sleep sometime during the Thanksgiving Day. Therefore, their options are to not participate in part or all of the holiday or sacrifice their health and forgo sleep, all for the privilege to sell discounted merchandise in the middle of the night.

These retailers certainly aren’t the only businesses open on the holiday. Movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, grocery and convenience store employees sacrifice holidays with their families. But in general those businesses don’t require hundreds of people to operate and maybe they shouldn’t be open either.

When this trend started exactly is difficult to determine but the encroachment is spreading fast.

According to a 2009 article on usnews.com, most stores were closed the holiday and opened early Friday. Last year, according to Huffingtionpost.com, Thanksgiving hours were: Walmart - 8:00 pm; Macy’s and Kohl’s midnight; Michaels, 4pm to 11pm; Target- 9 pm; Sears 8:00 - pm. Toys R Us 8:00 pm.

The encroachment has not gone unnoticed.

This year many posts on social media commented on Kmart’s decision: “Shame on you! These employees are real people with families! “; “It disgusts me to see stores like #Kmart opening at 6am Thanksgiving morning.” “You can't honor #Thanksgiving? I'll NEVER set foot in #Kmart again.”

Target came under criticism in 2012 after a petition titled: "Target: Take the high road and save Thanksgiving“ went viral. After a year, it has more than 377,000 supporters. 

Target’s response on www.abullseyeview.com : “Our opening time this year reflects the feedback we have heard from our guests – many prefer to shop following their family gatherings rather than in the very early hours of the morning. “ The statement continued: “We recognize that our opening time has required many of our team members to adjust their family schedules and we thank them.”

Another petition started this year that has nearly 60,000 signatures states: “…asking Target to please keep all stores closed on Thanksgiving Day and to open the stores for Black Friday at a reasonable hour so that people like me can be together with their family and friends on Thanksgiving.”

As the posts and petitions point out, we should be encouraging family time and traditions not chipping away at it. Our lives are demanding enough without the pressure of missing out on discounts that could certainly wait. Remember every gadget bought keeps a parent away from a child; a grandchild away from a grandparent; a niece or nephew away from an aunt or uncle; cousins and siblings away from each other.

Lets’ teach large retailers a lesson and not patronize their stores on Thanksgiving. As an alternative stay home, dust off those board games shoved in the hall closest and have family game night.  And if you must get your fix of capitalism, nothing says family-time more than a cut-throat game of Monopoly.

Brian Springer is a Southern California-based, re-awakened freelance writer. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.