Transit Talking Points by: Nicholas Ventrone, Community Engagement Director
In an unexpected turn of events in modern retail history, more shoppers are discovering the secret of enjoying both the entire Thanksgiving feast and shopping bargains at the same time: The Internet.
You may remember from last year that shoppers overwhelmingly rejected corporate greed and materialism and told the vast operators that run the big-box stores that they are enjoying the fullness of Thanksgiving night with their families and friends, a gift of time that is so precious for many.
The marketing campaigns from a few powerhouses in the corporate retail sector attempted to skew the family holiday by encroaching in-store Black Friday deals into the heart of dinner time. The Friday after Thanksgiving is historically the busiest shopping day of the year where retailers compete for floods of shoppers by offering huge deals on products which are exclusive in store. After the feast of thanks, bargain-seekers would go to bed, set their alarm clocks well before dawn early Friday, line up in front of a major retailer and shop.
With scores of people camping in front of major retailers for hours each Black Friday, some corporations thought they would be clever, and in a vain attempt, tried to crush the family holiday by extending Black Friday sales into Thanksgiving night. The madness peaked a few years ago. In 2014, Wal-Mart had door-buster in-store bargains that began 6:00PM Thanksgiving night! Remember the sale that offered a 65 inch television for $648 as well as an Xbox One Console with the latest game and a $30 gift card, all for just $329? The only way to cash in on those deals were to go to Sam Walton's big box mart in the middle of the turkey dinner because availability wasn't guaranteed anytime after 7pm...Or maybe there actually is a similar deal happening right now on the net. More on that in a moment.
The greed for money and power from some retail giants certainly grew out of control and the tipping point has been reached. In-store retail workers have voiced and shoppers took note. Many customers denied the stores their powers to further damage the holiday tradition by staying with the family and shopping online. Reports are showing that traditional Thanksgiving is the victor. The retailers electing to open and have their employees work Thanksgiving night were humiliated with lackluster in-store sales and profit margins that even economists could find morally unjustifiable.
According to a recent CNN report, the nation's largest shopping hub, the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota will be closed Thanksgiving. Office Depot and Radio Shack also elected to shut down for the holiday according to the report; they were both open last year. The latter was also embarrassed after an internal conference call was leaked to YouTube. Shoppers today have alternative options.
Black Friday deals are already live on the net. Just today, mid-size retailer P.C. Richard & Son which is family owned and operated advertised a similar 65 inch screen for $580 online with free shipping. The Xbox One retails today for about $250 from several websites. Sounds like a better deal than the one from Wal-Mart in 2014. How many of you are excited about them as they were just two years ago? I like the idea of these internet sales opportunities without having to cut short my Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, online sales surged during the Thanksgiving break last year, which meant more shoppers avoided the mad rush at the stores.
By the way, P.C. Richard & Son is a leader of protecting the dignity of the holiday and encouraging folks to stay with the family. In fact it has dedicated a section of its website to make that point clear.
Other retailers have gone the extra mile and even produced TV commercials letting the public know that no in-store deals will happen during turkey time. They include Designer Shoe Warehose, T.J Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods, and I'm sure there's other businesses that have done the same. Deal-seekers now know that they can grab bargains on the Internet which can be delivered after the holiday, which allows Black Friday sales to continue during this period while allowing families and retail workers the freedom of enjoying the fullness of the Thanksgiving holiday.
I point this out each year because The Transit Coalition believes that a strong domestic family unit is the backbone toward a better and crime-free society. Our transit fleets that we work hard to advocate and support deserve not to be mired in crime or vandalism. People need to spend time with their families on Thanksgiving and they should consider doing that for the entire four-day weekend as well. The social time, fun with the children, and the dinner feast are priceless and irreplaceable. Family holidays like Thanksgiving keep our relationships and communities strong. Stronger families build up stronger communities and keep children out of the criminal culture.
Let's do our part in bringing about a Better Inland Empire and treasure these holiday moments. That Black Friday deal is bound to be somewhere on the World Wide Web and not just in a store during the turkey feast.
Have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!