Blue Laws protect Thanksgiving

Minnesota should consider a law limiting pre-Black Friday shopping.

Ronald Dixon

Many retailers are making headlines for opening earlier on Thanksgiving night for Black Friday.

Minnesota-based retailers Best Buy and Target are forcing employees to open stores earlier than they have in previous years for Black Friday — at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving day, respectively, and they’re not the only ones.

Big corporations have a huge profit motive for these shifts. The number of people planning to shop on Thanksgiving Day nearly doubled between 2008 and 2011, according to the National Retail Federation. In 2011, nearly 29 million people said they would shop for the holidays on Thanksgiving.

From an economic perspective we can see these retailers’ rationale, but we must consider the toll that corporatism has upon the millions of employees that work the holiday.

The average Target cashier wage listed on Glassdoor.com is about $8.11 per hour, or $16,224 per year. The average salary listed for of Best Buy sales associate is about $9.78 per hour, or $19,672 per year. At both companies workers are working full-time while still living around or below the poverty line, which is $23,550 for a family of four. Therefore, these employees must work overtime to survive.

There are only a few days each year companies should explicitly respect, and Thanksgiving is one of them. After working strenuous hours for little pay and/or a lack of benefits, workers should have a few days to relax.

Unfortunately, low-income workers looking for increased holiday or overtime pay and profitable retailers fuel the corporatization of Thanksgiving.

A practical solution would be an alternative to Massachusetts’s Blue Laws, which prohibit retailers from opening on Thanksgiving Day.

 Minnesota could adopt a similar law that doesn’t ban retailers from opening on Thanksgiving, but rather, requires double pay for employees working on the holiday, and makes it optional to work on Thanksgiving.

This would serve as a win-win for those that want to extra money and do not observe Thanksgiving, as well as those who wish to spend the holiday with loved ones.