Backlash building against Black Friday starting on Thursday

9:02 PM, Nov 12, 2012   |    comments
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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By Duane Marsteller / The Tennessean

A backlash is building against major retailers' plans to begin Black Friday sales earlier on Thanksgiving night.

The day after Thanksgiving heralds the annual holiday shopping season, which accounts for as much as 40 percent of retailers' annual sales. Retailers typically offer massive discounts and other limited-time promotions on that day to boost shopper excitement and sales.

Black Friday historically started in the wee early-morning hours, but in recent years retailers have been moving it earlier so that it now begins on Thanksgiving night.

Kmart, Sears, Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart plan to re-open at 8 p.m. this Thanksgiving, while Target will re-open an hour after that. All are re-opening two to four hours earlier than they did last year.

That has sparked a small but growing consumer and employee backlash, notably in social media circles, as critics deride what they are calling "Black Friday Creep" or "Black Thursday."

Among them:

• More than two dozen petitions have been launched on Change.org urging retailers to 'save' their employees' Thanksgivings by not re-opening until the day after. One, aimed at Target, already has more than 155,000 signatures.

• Several Facebook pages, such as one called Boycott Black Thursday, are urging shoppers to bypass retailers who re-open on Thanksgiving.

• Wal-Mart workers, with the backing of two workers' rights groups, are using Facebook and Twitter to organize potential Black Friday strikes, walk-outs, sick-outs or other possible labor actions against the world's largest retailer.

Some retailers have noted the push-back and have tweaked their Black Friday operating plans in response.

"We understand that many of our associates want to spend time with their families on the holiday, so Sears and Kmart will staff its stores with seasonal associates and those who have volunteered to work on Thanksgiving Day," the retailers said in a statement.

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