Shopping on Thanksgiving? Let's shoot an arrow through it

Call me a grumbling Grinch, but the thought of UFC-style shopping on Thanksgiving Day is revolting.

I know, I know. Lots of people work on Thanksgiving, especially in Las Vegas, where the casino industry continues every day without hesitation. There is some rationale to keeping open malls that focus on tourists.

Lots of people who are critical to safety must work. Firefighters, police, hospital workers. Even newspaper folks expect to work. I knew when I went into journalism that newspapers come out every day.

There’s a big difference between knowing your job requires you to work on Thanksgiving and being forced to work for nonessential jobs. I would be ashamed if people were forced to work on Thanksgiving Day merely to satisfy my lust to find a cheap deal.

Black Friday is more understandable; people with the day off want to use it.

Black Friday shopping, and now Thanksgiving Day shopping, has become more like “The Hunger Games” than we realize. It’s about winning. Even if winning means hurting someone else. It brings out the most despicable behavior.

Over the weekend, we saw shoppers across the country get shot, stabbed, Tasered, knifed and trampled. Pushing and shoving isn’t exactly the sport of kings and queens.

A Las Vegas man bringing home his new big-screen TV after shopping on Thanksgiving was shot in the leg by a robber who wanted the TV without bothering to shop.

It was encouraging to find out that opening on Thursday made for softer sales on Black Friday. Maybe that will make companies that paid their employees to work on Thanksgiving rethink that approach, especially because so many more people looked at the violence and ugliness and decided to shop by using computers. Cyber Monday sales increased more than 18 percent over last year, a record for a single day at $1.75 billion.

Surely that sends a message to retailers about the economic wisdom of opening on Thanksgiving Day.

Did anyone who shopped on Thanksgiving even give a thought to the millions of people in retail who had to work so that the shopping games could start earlier than usual?

Perhaps some workers volunteered, hoping for extra pay. But this obsession of making money by retailers and saving money by shoppers doesn’t have anything to do with Thanksgiving values.

Thanks goes to those larger chains that refused to open, who respected their employees. Nordstrom’s. Costco. Dillards. T.J. Maxx.

Praise be to those people who decided shopping on Thanksgiving was wrong.

Loved the spin some retailers put on it. This was quality time if families went shopping on Thanksgiving. Do they have television sets to see that so-called quality family time?

Or some say this is a new tradition. Right. A tradition that hopefully will be abandoned next year.

News accounts said that the number of visits to stores fell 4 percent between Thanksgiving and Sunday and people were spending less. Perhaps that is because of dramatic discounting. The final numbers will tell the tale. Savvy retailers will weigh the costs of paying employees to work on Thanksgiving vs. the benefit.

But how does anyone put a price tag on forcing people to work on Thanksgiving Day?

Children’s memories of Thanksgiving are likely to change if this continues, and not for the better. “Hurry up and eat, honey, so we can go push and shove.” Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Money is important, especially if you don’t have it. But if you don’t have it, why are you out fighting to spend it? Yes, it touches the heart to hear people say they shopped for sales because otherwise they couldn’t afford Christmas and Hanukkah gifts.

But cheapening Thanksgiving certainly doesn’t increase the value of those gifts.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at (702) 383-0275.