“Black Friday” will arrive earlier than usual at Walmart this year, with customers and workers barely able to digest their Thanksgiving meals before holiday shopping kicks off at 8 p.m. EDT.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is stocking up on electronic products in the hopes that shoppers will spend big during this all-important holiday season, Reuters reports. The post-Thanksgiving shopping season produces more than a quarter of annual sales for the nation’s largest retailer and luring consumers in to stores early may only increase sales.
“We bought deep, very deep, and we bought deep on items that matter to our customers,” Walmart U.S. Chief Merchandising and Marketing Officer Duncan Mac Naughton told Reuters.
But employees across the nation are protesting the opening, calling it just one more example of Walmart’s disconnect with the workers who keep its stores running, showing a flagrant disregard for workers, according to a news release from Making Change at Walmart.
As the largest employer in the country, the company should set standards for businesses and family values, the release says.
The complaint comes about a month after workers in California, Texas, Virginia, and Florida staged strikes and walkouts to protest working conditions, including increasingly inflexible and changing work schedules.
“The President was re-elected by the most diverse electorate in American history,” a spokesperson for Making a Change at Walmart told NewsOne. “His margin of victory was higher than any President since FDR. Voters refused to be silenced by big money, including the Waltons [the family that owns Walmart] and the 1 percent, by Citizens United or by voter suppression. We think the American public will stand up with workers… who refuse to let Walmart silence them.”
Twenty-two-year-old Colby Harris of Dallas who has worked at Walmart for three years, told NewsOne that while he is happy to be employed in the nation’s stagnant economy, he is not looking forward to the shifting holiday hours. Harris, who works in the produce department, says he is uncertain if his schedule will change at this point.
“I’m in a dilemma. I would like to spend the evening with them [his family] instead of arriving home after everyone has eaten.”
Pat Tift, a 24-year Walmart veteran whose son Troy will be visiting from the military over the Thanksgiving holiday, took a harder stance.
“This Thanksgiving, while millions of families plan to spend quality time with their loved ones, many Walmart workers have been told we will be stocking shelves and preparing for doors to open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night,” she said in the news release.
“My son is coming home from Afghanistan for the holiday, and I would be devastated if I had been scheduled to work. I see the disappointment in the eyes of my co-workers, especially those with young kids, that aren’t going to be able to share the holiday with their families.
Walmart is not the only retailer infringing on family time.
The New York Post reports:
Industry experts say retailers’ gradual invasion of Thanksgiving is a trend that will likely continue as stores face increasing pressure from Wall Street to boost sales during the crucial post-Thanksgiving weekend.
“I’m just hoping this doesn’t get to be an all-day thing,” says Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group, a firm.
Retail chains including Macy’s, Best Buy, and Kohl’s will open their doors at midnight on Black Friday, a move that helped boost sales in 2011 after years of staging early-bird specials in the hours just before dawn.
Additionally, the Post reports that Walmart’s customer traffic was highest in the hour following last year’s Thanksgiving event, so it doesn’t look like the workers are going to get a reprieve anytime soon.