Nation & World News

41 Hours Of Retail: Kmart’s Black Friday Plan Is Criticized

By Bill Chappell on November 6th, 2013

It’s only been hours since Kmart announced its Black Friday plan — to remain open for 41 hours in a row beginning early on Thanksgiving Day. But online critics are throwing a red light on the plan, with some calling the company a Grinch for its aggressive approach to the start of the Christmas shopping season.

“Everybody thinks your executives are horrible people,” a man named Christopher Sweet wrote on Kmart’s Facebook page. Another critic, Ted Talevski, appealed to the workers: “This is a message to all Kmart employees! Do not go to work on Thanksgiving Day!”

Responding to the negative feedback, Kmart says that it will try to staff its stores with seasonal workers to accommodate employees who want to be with friends and relatives.

Amber Camp, who says she works at Kmart, said via Facebook that her bosses “are planning on all the employees to have some time so we can actually spend time with our families on Thanksgiving.”

The criticisms began flowing soon after Sears, Kmart’s parent company, announced that the stores that long promoted “blue light specials” will be open from 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning to 11 p.m. Friday night.

Sears stores will work a less aggressive schedule, opening from 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night to 10 p.m. Friday.

“Kmart has opened at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving for the past three years,” reports CNN Money, where we spotted the story about the backlash. “Last year, however, stores closed for a few hours at 4 p.m. to let shoppers and employees get to their Thanksgiving dinners.”

The company’s social media team repeatedly issued responses to the criticisms on Facebook, saying, “We understand many associates want to spend time with their families during the holiday. With this in mind Kmart stores do their very best to staff with seasonal associates and those who are needed to work holidays.”

One person offered their own response to a similar statement on Twitter, saying, “yes, that’s what the companies I worked for told us too, however we had no choice in the matter and I doubt your associates do either.”

But some defended the move, saying that many retail employees would be happy to earn overtime. And others say they aren’t bothered by the plan.

“Nobody is physically forcing employees to work at Kmart if they don’t like the scheduling,” one Facebook comment read.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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