Why Retail Employees Hate Black Friday

Black Friday retail workers

By Emily Jane Fox

NEW YORK -- For bargain happy shoppers, Black Friday means "doorbuster deals."

For retail workers, Black Friday means irate customers, long lines and pulling a 24-hour shift without sleep.

"(Customers) say things they shouldn't have. It just wasn't nice," says Curtis West, who worked 19 Black Fridays over the course of his 24 years as an employee at Macy's. West doesn't work there anymore, but when he first started at the Macy's flagship store in New York City, Black Friday sales started at 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. Now, the store plans to open at midnight.

The post-Thanksgiving tradition is now starting sooner than ever -- almost competing with late holiday feasting on Thanksgiving Day. Toys R Us, Sears, Walmart and Target are all opening their doors between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday evening.

Store employees have to show up even earlier to prepare for the retail rush. Others have to lose sleep as they work long, hectic overnight shifts at stores that remain open all hours of the night.

Macy's spokesman Jim Sluzewski said that Macy's waits until after Thanksgiving to open so that associates can spend the day with family. He said that the store asks for volunteers to staff the overnight shift and it gets a good response.

But according to West, working on Black Friday wasn't much of a choice. That's because Macy's only pays workers for time off on Thanksgiving if they work both the day before and the day after the holiday, he said.

For West, the pressure came from both ends.

At home, his family was upset with him for spending less time during the holiday with them.
At work, the mile-long lines of shoppers, the opening of Santa Land and the mad dash for limited quantities of deeply discounted items soon devolved into a nightmare for employees.
"It's a very stressful atmosphere for workers," he said. "Everyone's in a rush. They want the sale and then they want to get out of there and get to Kmart."

"Doorbusters" make things more hectic. Customers get frustrated after waiting hours for deals that sell out even before they get in the store. And workers usually bear the brunt of customers' anger.

"When the store runs out of merchandise the day of advertising, no one understands why you don't have it," West said. "Normally, it's hard to get a manager to deal with the issue."

Black Friday traditionally marks the start of the holiday shopping season each year. Stores consider it the most important time of the year, because they can make up to 40 percent of their annual sales in the November-December period.

West isn't the only store employee upset about working Black Friday. Last week, more than 20 new petitions were created on Change.org calling on retailers to push back their opening times so that workers can spend Thanksgiving at home.

One of the petitions, started by Target employee Casey St. Clair, has nearly 170,000 supporters on the advocacy website. St. Clair is asking Target to "take the high road and save Thanksgiving for employees."

A Target spokesperson said the store's opening time was carefully evaluated. "Thanksgiving weekend is one of the busiest of the year, and we appreciate our Target team's flexibility on this weekend and throughout the holiday season," she said.

Walmart workers also have started a campaign to fight against the store's 8 p.m. open time. OUR Walmart, an organization of Walmart workers, has been speaking out against the retailer's holiday hours.

In the 22 hours after the group shared a photo of an angry cat on its Facebook page with the caption, " 'Like' if you think Thanksgiving should stay a day for family not working and shopping," the photo got over 1,100 likes, 240 "shares" and 100 comments.

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Hey Tyler

retail employees? America should be outraged over black friday, people pushing and shoving, people buying a 150.00 tent to save 50 bucks on a TV, people acting like mad animals all to get a deal....yeah people who do black friday show their true colors, sort of like the honey boo boo mentality.....

November 25 2012 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate "black Friday" because it shows the world how low Americans can go. It point to the greed that makes us who we are. It is a disgusting display of ignorance.

November 25 2012 at 7:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seriously, we needed an article to tell us why employees hate black Friday? Geeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzzzz

November 25 2012 at 7:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Out of 365 days a year there were 3 days where a retail employee could enjoy the day off with their family. Now there are only 2 .... Christmas and Easter. I guess some people think that 362 shopping days is simply not enough! :(

November 25 2012 at 5:23 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

RETAIL WORKERS SHOULD EXPECT TO WORK ON BLACK FRIDAY. BY TAKING A RETAIL JOB, THE EMPLOYEE SIGNS UP FOR THAT. But, I can certainly understand them being upset about having to work Thanksgiving day, although Wal-Mart did not open till 8PM, so it at least gave them time to enjoy dinner and time with family.
Attempting to unionize Wal-Mart are futile. There was one walMart in Canada that adopted a union. WM promptly closed the store permanently. WM also permanently banned the former workers of the store from being rehired. some companys are too big to be unionized.
As for the WM workers protesting WM, I suspect they will be getting a pink slip pretty soon.

November 25 2012 at 3:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to spencertrkr5's comment

They unionize would be a boom for small retail stores. Higher prices would put them out of busness.

November 25 2012 at 5:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I worked at Walmart for two years and I have never been treated as poorly as I was there. I am hard worker and don't complain about working long hours or weekends but we were expected to the work of two or three people so that the managers could cut hours. Black Friday was the worst possible day of the year. The crowds were huge and posed a danger to the workers and the neighborhood around the store. We had workers run over and man-handled by shoppers. I realized that there are jobs that require people to work on holidays. These jobs usually deal with medical care or public safety. No one is going to die becuase they didn't get a big screen tv and it shameful when a full time worker with one child has to go on food stamps to make the ends meet. I agree that people should be grateful for a job but that does not mean the employer has right to treat them as less than human. Sam Walton said that family should come first yet Walmart tell its employee that Walmart should be the most important thing in lives.
That being said it is important the customers remember that if they are going to shop Black Friday, then remember to be nice to workers. We are trying our best. We are tired and miss our families. We do not control the number sales items and we do not get special deals. We have to follow the same rules as everyone else. If you treat a worker with respect and kindness then that person is far more likely to go that extra mile to help you.
Please do not assume that because we work retail that we are supid or lazy. I have a Masters degree in Education but I needed a job help pay bills. I was not too proud to work at Walmart. There are also people who enjoy helping others. I wished everyone had spend a year working retail in the type they shop in so that they would understand how the workers feel. I would ask everyone is who shopping this holiday to remember to treat the workers with the respect and kindness that they themselves would expect. I would also like to thank those people who selflessly give up their holidays to provide care and safety to the public. Happy Holidays.

November 25 2012 at 2:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i don't get it. won't the stores get 40% of their sales for the year whether they are open early, late, thanksgiving, the day after? if people need to buy that stuff, they will go get it whether the store opens at 4 in the morning or at 9 in the morning. if the store is closed thanksgiving day, go the next day and get your item? won't the stores make just as much? what is it that i am missing here?

November 25 2012 at 1:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to talkinturtles's comment

If you do not open consumers will go to what ever one opens first.
It is that simple?

November 25 2012 at 5:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate black friday. i didn't go anywhere near any of the sales and didn't even pick up a sale paper to look at the ads. People think they can act any way they want and because it's bf, we're supposed to over look their behavior??? idiots.

November 25 2012 at 1:21 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

I refuse to do Black Friday. Way too many people; I loath crowds and traffic. The lines are horendous. I prefer to shop on line from the comfort of my home whenever I want.

November 25 2012 at 1:17 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Black Friday shopping for just what Holidays? Muslim, Christian, Jewish, whatever? Since Christmas symbols are considered PC incorrect just why is this time for year considered a time of buying more stuff cheap, cheap? Just what is being celebrated? Greed? Like George Carlin used to talk about in his routines it's all about who dies with the best & the most stuff. Notice gov offices are closed for business -rather a bit hypocritical when they are the enforcers of the separation of church/religion & state…
If people weren't so greedy then the big corps wouldn't bother with "BLACK FRIDAY" now would they?? If people are buying "Christmas" presents, the way they do is the very antithesis of what Jesus taught, isn't it?No, the Holidays are all about hedonistic plain old greed and herd mentality………

November 25 2012 at 1:13 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Footiemak's comment

The government offices are only closed on Thanksgiving only. They are opened the next day, unless otherwise stated.

November 25 2012 at 2:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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