TIME Economy

FDR Moved Thanksgiving to Give People More Time to Shop

Franklin D. Roosevelt Thanksgiving
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family, during Thanksgiving dinner in 1937 Thomas D. McAvoy—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

In 1939, the President got a pretty wacky idea about post-turkey shopping

Thanksgiving had been an official national holiday for decades when, in 1939, Franklin Roosevelt decided to mix things up.

The November calendar that year was an odd one: the month had started on a Wednesday, so there were five Thursdays rather than four Thursdays. Though Thanksgiving had been celebrated on the last Thursday of the month since the time of Lincoln, that August Roosevelt “broke his umptieth [sic] precedent,” in the words of TIME, and declared that he was moving the national Thanksgiving day up a week, the the second-to-last Thursday in the month.

Many people were not happy about the change, as TIME reported the week after it was announced:

Only since 1863 has Thanksgiving had a consistent year-to-year day, but football coaches were furious: 30% of them had games scheduled Nov. 30 which would now play to ordinary weekday crowds. Calendar-makers took the blow quietly except for Elliott-Greer Stationery Co. of Amarillo, Tex., which happily discovered it had designated Nov. 23 as Thanksgiving Day by mistake. Alf Landon sounded off in Colorado as follows: “. . . Another illustration of the confusion which his impulsiveness has caused so frequently during his administration. If the change has any merit at all, more time should have been taken in working it out . . . instead of springing it upon an unprepared country with the omnipotence of a Hitler.”

Yes, Roosevelt’s Republican rival did just compare FDR to Hitler because of this.

But FDR had a Black Friday-friendly explanation: merchants wanted a holiday that was farther from Christmas, allowing more time to shop. By that fall, 22 states had decided to play along with the change in their official calendars, 23 were sticking with tradition and Mississippi hadn’t decided. (Two states, Texas and Colorado, decided to observe both holidays.) The President stuck with the change the following year, declaring Nov. 21 to be the official Thanksgiving Day for 1940.

The following year, however, TIME’s headline on the topic was “President Admits Mistake”:

Midway in his press conference, with no change of voice or expression, the President picked up a memorandum and said there was one thing more. The reporters, expecting an announcement of the occupation of Martinique, or the declaration of a national emergency, sucked in their breath. They let it out again when they heard the President say that in 1942 Thanksgiving would be changed back to the traditional date, the last Thursday in November.

Nobody rushed for the telephone. But seasoned old Pundit Mark Sullivan grasped the full historic significance of the change: though some New Deal experiments had been killed by Congress, and a few had been invalidated by the courts, this was the first one to be formally renounced. The President made it clear that he had not been responsible for the mistake in the first place. Retail merchants had wanted the date of Thanksgiving set a week ahead to lengthen the shopping season before Christmas; the expected boon to trade had not materialized; the changed date had been an experiment and the experiment had not worked.

It was, by then, too late to change 1941’s calendars, on which the old-new Thanksgiving date (the third Thursday) had already been printed. And in Maine, things were even more extreme: “Now that President Roosevelt has gone back to the old Thanksgiving,” TIME reported, “Republican Governor Sumner Sewall has proclaimed the new Thanksgiving for the first time.”

By the end of 1941, Roosevelt had signed a bill officially sticking Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November, whether or not it was the last Thursday of the month. His attempt to give Americans a longer holiday season had proved futile — but, as anyone at a mall this Friday could attest, his instinct about the nation’s desire to get shopping wasn’t entirely misguided.

TIME Retail

Second Act of Shopping Frenzy Gets Started

Holiday Shopping Black Friday
Shoppers head into Target just after thei doors opened at midnight on Black Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, in South Portland, Maine Robert F. Bukaty—AP

Sales are expected to rise 4.1% to $611.9 billion

(NEW YORK) — Stores are welcoming a second wave of shoppers in what has become a two-day kickoff to the holiday shopping season.

The big question: How much Thanksgiving shopping will hurt Black Friday, which is relinquishing its status as the start of the holiday shopping season?

Last year, sales on Black Friday slumped 13.2 percent to $9.74 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at more than 70,000 stores globally. Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak, says how stores will fare Friday is uncertain.

With stores pushing more deals earlier in the month, the holiday weekend has become less important. But the period still sets the tone for the shopping season, whose sales are expected to rise 4.1% to $611.9 billion. That would be the biggest increase since 2011.

TIME Companies

Labor Group Plans Strike of Walmart Stores on Black Friday

Operations Inside A Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Location Ahead Of Black Friday
Employees assist shoppers at the check out counter of a Wal-Mart Stores Inc. location ahead of Black Friday in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 Bloomberg—Getty Images

For the third year in a row, OUR Walmart is planning a massive strike on Black Friday

Employees at Walmart stores in at least six states and Washington, D.C., plan to strike on one of the busiest shopping days of the year to protest workers’ wages and hours.

OUR Walmart, an employee labor group, announced earlier in November that workers across the country would walk out over “illegal silencing of workers who are standing up for better jobs.” The group has been hosting Black Friday strikes since 2012, but promises this year’s will be the largest yet.

The group has the support of some of the nation’s labor unions including UFCW, a grocery and retailers union, the American Federations of Teachers in New Mexico, and AFL-CIO. In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “the entire labor movement will proudly stand with the brave workers at Walmart as they lead the largest mobilization to date for better wages and schedules.”

Added Trumka: “Their courage is inspiring and powerful in the fight for all workers.”

Employees are calling for consistent, full-time work as well as a living wage of $15/hour. In a press release, Our Walmart boasts that its previous efforts against the retail giant have led the company to agree to increase minimum wages for its lowest paid workers as well as program that provides workers with greater access to open shifts.

Late Wednesday, social media reports began circulating of workers in Washington, D.C., and other cities who had already started participating in sit-ins and strikes. The group also accuses Walmart’s owners of growing wealthy on the backs of their low-wage workers.

“While many Walmart workers are unable to feed and clothe their families, the Walton family takes in $8.6 million a day in Walmart dividends alone to build on its $150 billion in wealth,” read a statement. “Walmart brings in $16 billion in annual profits.”

MONEY Shopping

The 5 Hottest Toys This Holiday Season

The upcoming holiday shopping season is crucial for the U.S. toy industry, and early data supplied to Fortune suggests Disney’s “Frozen,” as well as electronics such as Xbox One and the Skylanders game, will be among the top sellers this year.

Data provider Experian Marketing Services gave Fortune a look at the hottest toy searches for the week ended Nov. 22, and “Frozen” tops the list. With the Christmas holiday just a little over four weeks away, consumers who wait too long could find it challenging to scoop up some of the top sellers.

Roughly half of all Americans plan to buy toys as gifts this year, according to a recent Nielsen Harris Poll survey of more than 2,200 adults.

MONEY The Economy

Thanksgiving Shopping: By the Numbers

More than 140 million Americans are expected to shop on Black Friday, while some plan to get great deals online on Cyber Monday.

MONEY online shopping

Best Holiday Shopping Deals You Can Get Without Leaving Home

Since Black Friday sales now start on Thanksgiving, or even the week before, it sorta makes sense that e-retailers have launched huge Cyber Monday-like sales already.

Websites used to wait for the Monday after Thanksgiving (a.k.a. Cyber Monday) to launch their biggest, across-the-board online sales on all merchandise—deals like 40% off, even 50% off sitewide, with some discounts going even higher.

But in a market in which retailers are aggressively trying to grab shopper dollars earlier and early each year, and when “Black Friday” promotions start at least a week before actual Black Friday—perhaps even occupying all of November—why wait?

Amazon.com, the world’s largest e-retailer, sure isn’t waiting. The site has been rolling out a new Black Friday deal as often as every ten minutes this week. Virtually every other retailer has deals online that were live as of Wednesday, and are especially impressive because they’re so expansive: Instead of offering a select few discounts and “doorbuster” deals, they represent markdowns on virtually everything the retailers are selling.

We’ll update as the epic Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend progresses, and remember: All of these offers are available online, meaning none requires a trip to the mall.

40% Off
Abercrombie & Fitch: Use the code 15555 for 40% off all merchandise, online and in stores, through November 26.

American Eagle: 40% off sitewide (use code GOBBLEUP) now through November 30, with free standard shipping on all orders—plus a free blanket thrown in with all orders over $60

Ann Taylor: 40% off regular-priced items and 50% off “Sale Styles” with the code SHOPANN at checkout, valid through November 26

Banana Republic: 50% off one full-price item and 40% off the rest of your order with use of the code BRFORTY, on November 27 only

Lucky Brand: A “Pre-Black Friday” sale knocks 40% off sitewide

Tommy Hilfiger: Use the code BF40 for 40% off sitewide, valid through November 30

50% Off
Children’s Place: 50% off everything plus free shipping on all orders, through November 28

Gap: 50% off all merchandise (use code BLKFRIDAY) through November 28

Hollister: 50% off everything starting at 6 p.m. on November 27 (Thanksgiving), through November 28

Fila: Get 50% off nearly everything (there are a scant few exceptions) on the footwear and apparel specialist’s site, now through Black Friday

Lane Bryant: 50% off everything in store and online (use checkout code HOLIDAYLB), through November 30

The Limited: Enter the code THANKS for 50% off and free shipping

J. Crew Factory: 50% in store and online for the Factory line, as well as 30% to 40% off standard J. Crew merchandise

60% Off
Aeropostale: 60% off everything online and in stores through November 30, with a bonus $25 gift card for purchases of $100 or more

MONEY Shopping

Lazy Bargain Hunters Are Hiring People to Wait in Black Friday Lines

Customers wait in line outside a Target Corp. store ahead of Black Friday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013.
Customers wait in line outside a Target store ahead of Black Friday in Chicago, Illinois. Patrick T. Fallon—Bloomberg via Getty Images

For $20 an hour, you can hire someone to save your spot in line

There’s nothing sweeter than a Black Friday deal… except maybe a few extra hours of sleep. And thanks to the internet, some lazy shoppers have figured out a way to have their sleep and 70%-off TVs, too.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports consumers have been using TaskRabbit, a platform that lets users pay to “outsource” any job, no matter how minor, to hire people to wait in line for Black Friday doorbusters.

“Every year hundreds of taskers are hired to wait in line for Black Friday deals,” said Aaron Gannon, a spokesman for San Francisco-based TaskRabbit, told the Chronicle in an interview. And how much does line-waiting pay, you ask? In high-demand areas like San Francisco and New York City, the average wage is $22 an hour.

That’s hefty chunk of change—enough to make this journalist wonder why he didn’t double major in standing-outside-a-Target—and shoppers must be careful to weigh their line-waiting payroll against any potential savings.

But I suppose if the deals are good enough, and you’re sufficiently immune to feelings of shame, hiring a “tasker” (the technical term for a TaskRabbit employee) could make a lot of financial sense. For example, Walmart is offering a 65-inch Vizio television for $648 this Friday. On Amazon, that same set will cost you nearly $1,300. After, say, two hours of personnel (line-waiting tasker) costs are deducted, that could still yield savings of roughly $600.

Perhaps that’s why line-waiting has turned into a big business, even outside of Black Friday. The Atlantic noted the emergence of line-waiting businesses, like SOLD Inc. (an acronym for “Same Ole Line Dudes”), as well as entrepreneurs who use Craig’s List and similar sites to sell their services. Robert Samuel, SOLD’s founder, has made as much as $1,000 a week just taking up space.

And make no mistake, high-level line-waiters don’t mess around when it comes to their trade. “I’m a professional line waiter, here’s a business card,” said Samuel in an interview with Racked, describing a potential encounter with a curious pedestrian. “I can wait for you for your next sample sale or your next sneaker release.”

Line-waiting is apparently such a money-maker for TaskRabbit that the company has an entire page advertising its cast of warm, upright bodies. Paying a tasker to wait in line is “the easiest way to get the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus” announces the firm’s website. TaskRabbit even created a marketing campaign around the event: #SkipTheLine.

So is this new societal trend good or bad? On one hand, there’s something a little unfair about giving people with money to burn an advantage on holiday deals. There’s something meritocratic, even American, about giving extra savings only to those motivated enough to wake up before sunrise to wait outside a Best Buy. With paid staffers snapping up all the doorbusters, the rich would seem to be using Black Friday to get richer.

But at the same time, using your hard-earned cash to free yourself from unpleasant labors is also very American. Besides, it turns out that professional line-waiters may make life easier for actual retail employees. As one former Ralph Lauren cashier told MONEY, “The people who go out [on Black Friday], they’re just not afraid to really get angry… I’ve had a lot of merchandise thrown at me.”

Maybe leaving waiting to the pros will at least result in more relaxed shoppers, and a little less stress for the poor souls forced to work on Thanksgiving weekend.

Read More: Meet The People Who Work On Thanksgiving (So You Don’t Have To)

MONEY consumer psychology

Stop Making These 5 Shopping Mistakes And You Won’t Overspend!

Jennifer Martinez filled a shopping cart with toys at the Toys R Us store on County Line Road in Arapahoe County Thursday night, November 28, 2013.
Karl Gehring—The Denver Post via Getty Images

Shoppers feel smart when they've snagged a great bargain. But during the frenzy of sales on Black Friday and the holidays, it's common for bargain hunters to make dumb mistakes that wind up costing them big time.

The biggest shopping season of the year is upon us. We shop more, and when we do, we’re overwhelmed with products and price promotions in today’s hyper-competitive retail environment. In effect, everyone is shopping with at least a touch of “bargain brain.” That’s the term I use to describe the confusing, pressure-filled state of mind of the average shopper during the holiday period. And it’s this mentality, combined with some classic sales strategies practiced by retailers, that makes it more likely for shoppers to wind up making some regretful shopping decisions, including but not limited to choosing the wrong gift or buying at the wrong price.

As a consumer psychologist, I interview lots of shoppers, and this year, with few exceptions, they said that if it wasn’t on sale, they weren’t buying it. We’ve come to expect discounting, and won’t buy until they appear. Promotional sales are ubiquitous, and shoppers understand that the “regular” price of many products has been inflated to leave room for markdowns. Therefore, as you’ve likely already seen, it’s a deal-a-minute holiday out there.

We’re flooded with news of “unmissable,” “unbelievable,” and “never before” rapid-fire sales from all directions: advertising, catalogs, emails, texts, through social media feeds and all other sources of digital communication. With each bit of information coming our way, we’re constantly pushed to reevaluate what to buy, and when to buy it. Considering all of the decisions that must be made, it’s no wonder we make some less-than-great ones during the holidays. And so bargain-brained errors are common around this time of year, especially those that fall into these five categories:

Fear of Missing Out
Because sales are short-lived and hot holiday gifts are often available in limited supply, shoppers are well aware that if they don’t bite, the item could soon return to full price or disappear entirely. That’s why sales cause FOMO (fear of missing out) fever, and it’s this mix of fear and excitement that can muddle thinking. Add in the emotional pressure and competitive fuel of crowds and it’s understandable why so many end up making regrettable purchasing decisions at this time of year.

To keep your cool, it helps to understand that the vast majority of holiday sales are carefully planned long in advance of the season. With few exceptions, retailers have ample supplies of what they expect to be top sellers. Many of the seemingly great doorbuster deals that appear in limited supply on Black Friday are not only cheaply priced but cheap quality as well. So overall, in all likelihood you’ll be able to find the best gifts in stock somewhere during the course of the holidays, and you shouldn’t sweat missing out on a few chintzy Black Friday deals.

Actually, one approach to the pressure of the season is simple resignation: Enter the holiday shopping season full assuming that at least once and perhaps multiple times you’ll miss the lowest price or see something later that would have made a better gift. Frankly, it’s not a bad strategy. It preserves time and saves energy that might be better used for enjoying the holidays. If you’re not scared about the possibility of paying a little more than is necessary, or of purchasing some gifts that are decent but not necessarily great, then you never experience FOMO—nor do you make the bad decisions spurred on by this common emotion.

Valuing Price Over Value
Even in the face of a jaw-dropping bargain, it’s essential to stay focused on how much you really want the item rather than on the discount. During frenzied moments, people can easily lose focus on what they’re buying and end up with gifts in search of a recipient rather than a thoughtfully chosen gift for someone on your list. Jenny, a busy working mother, for example, told me she has a “gift drawer” stuffed with cashmere scarfs. “I got them online during a flash sale a couple of years ago and I’m still working though that stash,” she recalled. “It’s almost embarrassing because I honestly can’t remember who I’ve given one to in previous years.”

Also keep in mind that when we’re emotionally charged while shopping, we’re also more prone to impulse purchases. Whether online or in store, tempting add-on items (especially those stocking stuffers and knickknacks that can hammer your holiday budget) will be especially prevalent this year. The solution is to breathe deeply and take an extra moment to consider what you’re really buying.

Getting Confused by Deals
Another problem with the swift and steady stream of promotions we’ll be wading through this year is managing the complexity of offerings. Neil, an engineer by profession who is used to tackling complexity, says that even he’s often confused by the way sales, coupons, and promotions piled on top of each other. “I have a coupon for $50 off if I spend $200 so that’s a 25% discount, but what if I find something for $150 for my wife?” he said. “Then I’d probably end up spending more to get the discount which blows the discount. Or I can wait for Black Friday but maybe what I want won’t be included in the sale.” Stay calm, use your phone’s calculator, and never ever spend in order to save.

Too Much Bargain Hunting
In my research I’ve found that consumers who are heavily bargain-focused actually spend more total money shopping than others. Why? They spend more time shopping, which means they see and therefore often want and buy more merchandise. Also, because their focus is on how much they’re saving, they more easily lose track of what they’re spending.

Speaking of which, a classic silly bargain-brain move is to mentally consider the money you’ve “saved” off list prices as “earned” money—and this found money often gets spent pretty easily. Consider what Angie said in a recent interview: “I got these pants I needed on sale, so I treated myself to the matching top. It was full price, but that’s okay because I saved all that money getting the pants on sale.” Get the irony? In no universe is spending money actually saving money. But it can feel like that. Beyond that, remember that in our discount-crazed world, original prices are usually wildly inflated, so sales “save” far less money than you think.

Ignoring the Fine Print
Yet another potential pitfall to bargains is that they often come with strings attached. For gifts, the most problematic of these issues is a no-return policy, a short return window, or returns that only qualify for merchandise credit. Take is from Carly, an avid online shopper, that unless you’ve seen and considered the product before, losing the ability to return merchandise can be costly. “I spent half my Christmas budget on clearance blow-out merchandise” last year, she said. “While a few of the items were perfect and I got them for a steal, at least half were ungiftable and totally wrong. I’m stuck with them so it’s not really a bargain in the end.”

If you find yourself succumbing to “bargain brain,” do your best to remain mentally calm. Try to focus on the value and cost of a product rather than simply the reduced price of a tempting sale “opportunity.” Above all, stay loyal to your gift list and budget.

MORE: How Do I Set a Budget I Can Stick To?

Hey Impulse Spenders, Here’s a Solution to Your Bad Habit

_____________________________________________________

Kit Yarrow, Ph.D., is a consumer psychologist who is obsessed with all things related to how, when and why we shop and buy. She conducts research through her professorship at Golden Gate University and shares her findings in speeches, consulting work, and her books, Decoding the New Consumer Mind and Gen BuY.

Read next: 7 Black Friday Haggling Secrets You Need to Know

 

MONEY Shopping

12% of Black Friday Shoppers Will Be Drunk (and More Crazy Facts About the Holiday Frenzy)

141128_HO_Lede
Shoppers wait to enter the Aeropostale store in Tyson's Corner, Virginia during 'Midnight Madness' at the Tyson's Corner Center in Tyson's Corner, Virginia.. Tyson's Corner Center is the largest shopping center in the Washington, DC area. Karen Bleier—AFP/Getty Images

How many people will go shopping this weekend? What day actually has the best deals? How much will the average shopper spend? How many of them are tipsy while they're browsing for gifts?

Read on for answers to the above, as well as other nuggets about what’s in store for consumers during the annual Thanksgiving-Black Friday weekend shopping extravaganza.

Less Than 5% The average discount on Black Friday for 6,000 items tracked last year by the deal-hunting site ShopAdvisor; researchers found that the average discount during the holiday period was highest on December 18 (17.5%).

5 Number of hours that RadioShack will shut down on Thanksgiving (noon to 5 p.m.); it had originally planned to stay open from 8 a.m. to midnight, but decided to close during the middle of the day after receiving complaints from employees.

10 Number of employees at a Virginia Best Buy whose sole job is to restock items as soon as there are gaps on store shelves on Black Friday.

12% Proportion of Thanksgiving Day shoppers who admit to hitting the stores on the holiday while under the influence of alcohol, according to a survey conducted on the behalf of the coupon site RetailMeNot.

16% vs. 50% Respectively, the percentages of shoppers ages 55+ and 18 to 24 and who think it’s “a great idea” for stores to be open on Thanksgiving.

22 Number of days before Black Friday that two women in California began camping out at a Best Buy in order to be first in line for deals. They hope to buy a cheap TV.

25% Amount of extra trash thrown away by Americans during the Thanksgiving-New Year’s period, compared to any other time of the year.

28% vs. 32% Percentages of women and men, respectively, who plan on spending $250 to $500 on Black Friday (yes, more guys than girls).

At Least 3 Dozen Number of national retailers, including Costco, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, and Nordstrom, that have decided to stay closed on Thanksgiving.

38% Percentage of shoppers who plan on purchasing holiday gifts with credit cards, up from 28.5% last year and the highest level recorded since the National Retail Federation has asked the question in surveys.

39% Proportion of Americans who feel pressured to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season.

42 Number of consecutive hours that Kmart stores will be open, starting at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving and lasting through midnight on Black Friday.

70% Percentage of consumers who say that stores should be closed on Thanksgiving this year, up from 60% in 2012.

70% Percentage of consumers who say that Black Friday is meaningless because “there will be more sales throughout the holidays.”

71% Percentage of consumers who say they may not like the gift they receive over the holidays.

96% Percentage of consumers who say that discounts are important to their shopping decisions during the holidays, up from 94% last year—and three in ten say that they’ll hold out for discounts of 50% or more before making a purchase.

$407 Average amount spent by consumers over Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, down 4% compared to the year before.

$450 Minimum you must spend at one of two malls in southern California in order to receive a free Uber ride home, starting on Black Friday and stretching through Christmas Eve.

140 Million Estimated number of consumers who will shop in stores or online this weekend, according to the National Retail Federation, roughly the same as the expectations leading into the 2013 Thanksgiving-Black Friday period.

 

MONEY Shopping

7 Things to Know About Thanksgiving Shopping Boycotts

Dillards retail department store.
Dillards retail department store. Jim Parkin—Alamy

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are up in arms about stores like Walmart and Target being open on Thanksgiving. What kind of impact will their protests have?

Like it or hate it, Thanksgiving shopping is a growing trend, and based on the crowds of consumers that will surely show up to browse and buy on the holiday, it’s a tradition that is likely here to stay. Here’s a deeper look at which stores are open, which are closed, and why, as well as the campaigns being waged around the country to try to keep Thanksgiving as a sacred, family-first, non-shopping day.

Dozens of national retailer won’t open on Thanksgiving. While stores like J.C. Penney, Walmart, Toys R Us, Kmart, and Best Buy are opening on Thanksgiving and trying to attract the masses with some seemingly terrific deals, at least three dozen other national retailers have vowed to remain closed on the holiday. The Boycott Black Thursday and the Boycott Shopping on Thanksgiving Facebook pages, as well as other Thanksgiving shopping haters are encouraging consumers to support the stores that aren’t opening on the holiday by shopping with them later in the season. Among those staying closed on Thanksgiving are:

Academy Sports + Outdoors
A.C. Moore
American Girl
Barnes & Noble
Bed, Bath & Beyond
BJ’s
Bloomingdale’s
Burlington Coat Factory
Cabela’s
Christopher & Banks
Costco
Crate & Barrel
Dillard’s
DSW
GameStop
Hobby Lobby
Home Depot
Home Goods
JoAnne
Lowe’s
Marshalls
Men’s Wearhouse
Menards
Neiman Marcus
Nordstrom
Orvis
Patagonia
P.C. Richard
PetCo
PetSmart
REI
Saks Fifth Avenue
Sam’s Club
Talbots
T.J. Maxx
Von Maur

Also, let’s not overlook all of the small businesses that wouldn’t even consider opening up for shopping on Thanksgiving.

Some stores say they’re staying closed on principle. A statement released to the press from TJX, the company that owns Marshalls, Home Goods, and T.J. Maxx, makes a point of it being an “associate-friendly” business that is “pleased to give our associates the time to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.” Similarly, Costco explained its decision to stay closed on the holiday this way: “Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families. Nothing more complicated than that.”

The not-so-subtle message being sent is that these retailers care about their workers, their workers’s families, and families in general. The implicit flip side is that stores that are opening on Thanksgiving should be shamed because their decisions to open on Thanksgiving demonstrate they don’t care as much about their employees or about American traditions and family.

Other closures seem a matter of practicality. “We’re not a high-volume, low-margin business,” Neiman Marcus spokeswoman Ginger Reeder, told the Wall Street Journal last year when the topic of Thanksgiving store hours arose. “We’re not trying to make some statement. It’s better for us to be closed.” The same line of thinking applies to other upscale retailers that aren’t opening on the holiday, such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. It’s a no-brainer for these stores to stay closed on Thanksgiving because it wouldn’t be a big money-making day anyway. “Thanksgiving promotions are about necessities that are marked down,” Neiman Marcus’s Reeder explained to the Los Angeles Times recently. “It’s just not a part of what we do.”

Likewise, as the Detroit Free Press columnist Georgea Kovanis pointed out, JoAnn, Home Depot, and many of other stores that will stay closed “aren’t generally known for their door busters … where people stand in line, waiting to pounce on dirt cheap large screen televisions or Lego kits.” Surely, stores like Sam’s Club, which is owned by Walmart—open 24/7 even on Thanksgiving—would open on the holiday if the higher-ups thought it would be worthwhile. So before going out of your way to support stores for remaining closed on Thanksgiving, consider Kovanis’s observation: “It’s not difficult to sit out the World Series or Super Bowl when you were never in the game to begin with.”

Boycotters are focused on shoppers as much as retailers. While boycott organizers and petitioners are actively spreading the word about stores that are ruining Thanksgiving by forcing employees to work—especially ones like Kmart, which is opening early in the morning on the holiday—they’re also targeting consumers who are giving stores a reason to open when they go shopping on the day. “We really just want to encourage people to stay home on Thanksgiving,” Brian Rich, the creator of the Boycott Black Thursday Facebook page, explained to his hometown Idaho Statesman. “If we can eliminate the demand for shopping on Thanksgiving, retailers will go back to staying closed. Retail employees can be at home with their families, and that’s really the ultimate goal we’re pushing for with this movement.”

Recently, a group of protesters at a “ProThanks” rally outside of a mall in Michigan also was simultaneously imploring stores to reconsider their decisions to open on Thanksgiving and asking shoppers to consider staying home. “Our hope is that we can make other people conscious that their choices do affect other people,” one protester said, noting that consumers who go shopping on Thanksgiving give stores a reason to be open—and a reason to force employees to work that day.

Thanksgiving hours don’t necessarily boost sales. Obviously, stores that are open on Thanksgiving boost sales for the day—because they’d otherwise be closed and making no in-person sales. But the idea that opening on Thanksgiving boosts overall sales for the holiday period is dubious. Analysts are quick to point out that retailers “risk cannibalizing” sales by opening on Thanksgiving. The sales transactions that occur that day would otherwise probably be made on Friday, or later in the season, and the net sales change is likely to be zero. A big reason why Black Friday sales have declined in recent years is because stores have been expanding sales earlier and earlier into Thanksgiving.

Retailers feel forced to match the competition. The most promotion-driven retailers—Walmart, Target, Kmart, J.C. Penney, Best Buy, etc.—are constantly trying to beat the rest of the pack to the sale. They’re all battling for the business of shoppers with limited holiday shopping budgets, and so it’s essential to get their money before it’s spent elsewhere. This is why price-matching policies are proliferating, and why early Black Friday sales are popping up earlier and earlier. And it’s a big reason why stores are opening on Thanksgiving: They’re scared that if they stay closed, they’ll be losing business to the competition.

The impact of boycotts will probably be minimal. Even if only a very small portion of consumers goes shopping on Thanksgiving—11% are interested, according to one survey—that represents tens of millions of shoppers heading to the mall. And that’s more than enough justification for retailers to open their doors on the holiday.

As for consumer boycotts of Thanksgiving shopping, “In terms of overall holiday shopping impact, there is none. Zero,” Richard Feinberg, a computer science and retail professor at Purdue University, said this week in the South Bend Tribune. “Even if people did not go out (Thanksgiving weekend), they would not boycott any store that they said they would boycott in the weeks to follow, with the many great sales available. And the people who really do boycott a store are just as likely to shop online during the time they are boycotting.”

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