By Kara Barber-Madsen
Michigan residents who were interviewed this month indicated they were upset that instead of spending time with their families, millions of Americans had to work on Thanksgiving this year in low-income retail jobs due to early Black Friday sales.
Jacob Palms, 37, WMU student, did not feel that retail stores should even be open on such a holiday. “I’m not a fan of Black Friday anything. We are supposed to be thankful, and then go out and be greedy?” Palms said. “Not just that, but it impacts low-income families the most.”
Currently, 1 in 4 U.S. citizens work in retail, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Retail workers make approximately $21,410 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is around $2,000 less than the federal poverty threshold.
Shayleene Mangold, 22, a stock specialist at Charlotte Russe, is one of 42 million retail workers in the U.S., according to the NRF. Mangold commented on having to work on Thanksgiving instead of spending time with her family because of financial need. “I enjoy my job, but I value my family more than money. At this time of year it is hard to say no to money,” said Mangold. “It is unfair that people in low-income jobs have to work.”
Kayla Williams, 18, an employee at Old Navy agreed with this, and said, “A $8 retail job is kind of sucky.”
Williams said she had to work at night, so having to work was not that big of a deal, but it did impact her family’s schedule. “We didn’t get to finish Thanksgiving because people had to leave to get to work,” Williams said. “It becomes a struggle between the need for money and time with family. Time and a half is nice, but I would rather not.”
Not everyone received Holiday pay on Thanksgiving though, such as Marina Gutierrez, 20, a sales associate at Dollar Tree. However, Gutierrez was more disappointed about losing family time than money. “Working on Thanksgiving takes away from family time, and although we closed at four, my family was gone,” Gutierrez said. “My cousin was visiting from Florida and I barely got to see him.”
Some companies have begun and continue to address the issue of family time, such as Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW), which closed on Thanksgiving.
“Family time is extremely important to us, and we want our associates to enjoy the holiday with their loved ones,” said DSW in a public statement. Other stores such as Barnes N’ Noble, GameStop, and Toys “R” Us also closed on Thanksgiving.