Facing increased competition from online retailers, a growing number of brick-and-mortar stores announced they will begin Black Friday sales later this evening.
A handful will even open up before some get their turkey day leftovers in the refrigerator. The biggest concern for retailers should be the potential for fueling discontent among workers.
Paul Spiegelman is a Texas-based employee morale expert.
“That certainly could upset an employee if it was unexpected, that they were asked to work a shift or work hours that they didn’t expect to work. Particularly on a day like today, where they’re really planning on relaxing and being home with their family.”
He thinks the majority of businesses opening their doors today are doing so with their employees in mind.
“I’m always talking on the side of the employee, but in this case I think the employer, certainly being reasonable and giving some advanced notice on a day like today. It’s okay to say, look we need you to work because that’s when our customer wants to do business with us.”
WalMart started the trend, and Target, Sears and Toys “R” Us followed suit.
Professor Betsy Gelb is with the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston. She says retailers are interested in market share, hoping employees will grin and bear it.
“Employees are delighted in many cases, to get time and a half or overtime, and that makes it a marketing challenge for Target to spread that word. There’s no reason they can’t run ads that say, ‘Our employees will be extra happy to see you at 8 o’clock Thursday night, because they’re getting time and a half to be there.”‘
People who were hired a couple of months ago will probably keep their jobs for a longer period.
Gelb says for some of them it’s a plus because they’re getting extra Christmas money.
“Many folks think, ‘Wow, this will help me pay off my credit cards with the overtime.’ So, marketers always think in terms of segments: Some people want to go to a store at 8 o’clock Thursday night; some people want to go for specials at 1o’clock in the morning; some people want to stay home and buy over the net.”
She adds the move to begin the holiday shopping season a day early will pay off for both retailers and job seekers.