There's one area in which small businesses may be able to best major retailers this Black Friday: the employee relations department.
Many big-box retailers, such as Target, Macy’s, Best Buy and Kohl’s, will all open this year at midnight on Thanksgiving, instead of the usual opening time of 6 a.m. on the morning of Black Friday. Walmart will be opening at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving evening in order to take advantage of and maximize Black Friday sales.
While these retailers may be planning to give consumers a head start on their holiday shopping, some of their employees, however, are feeling taken advantage of. One Target employee, in particular, Anthony Hardwick, started a campaign on Change.org petitioning Target chief executive officer and president, Gregg Steinhafel, to push back the opening time on Thanksgiving. Change.org seeks to bring about change in communities by allowing users to create petitions and gain support for them online.
"All Americans should be able to break bread with loved ones on Thanksgiving," said Hardwick, a part-time parking attendant at a Target in Omaha, Neb., for the past three years. "With the midnight opening, employees like myself will have to leave for work right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. We don’t mind hard work, but cutting into our holidays is a step too far. If Target doesn’t reverse its decision and allow associates to spend Thanksgiving holidays with their family, they might suffer from a fast-growing consumer backlash."
To this point, the online petition asking to push back the opening of Target stores to 5 a.m. on Black Friday has gained more than 9,000 supporters. The campaign has also generated a bit of press with articles published in The New York Times and ABC News. Consumers have also taken to Facebook and Twitter in support of the workers.
Update 11/15/11 7:27 a.m. - The petition against Target now contains more than 75,000 signatures. -- Jeanette Mulvey, Managing Editor