Tag Archive: Black Friday

Dec 03 2013

Black Friday: ‘Tis the Reason for the Season

5 x Five – Colbert Holidays: Black Friday

Shopping on Black Friday takes consumer confidence, consumer courage, and a subscription to Sky Mall magazine.

Gloomy Numbers for Holiday Shopping’s Big Weekend

by Elizabeth A. Harris, The New York Times

With the economy bumping along at a lackluster pace, and this year’s shorter-than-usual window between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sales and promotions began weeks before Thanksgiving Day, making this holiday shopping season more diffuse than ever. That left Black Friday weekend itself, the season’s customary kickoff, looking a bit gloomy.

Over the course of the weekend, consumers spent about $1.7 billion less on holiday shopping than they did the year before, according to the National Retail Federation, a retail trade organization.  [..]

More than 141 million people shopped online or in stores between Thursday and Sunday, according to a survey released Sunday afternoon by the retail federation, an increase of about 1 percent over last year. And the average amount each consumer spent, or planned to spend by the end of Sunday, went down, dropping to $407.02 from $423.55. Total spending for the weekend this year was expected to be $57.4 billion, a decrease of nearly 3 percent from last year’s $59.1 billion. [..]

Many retailers have been warning of a muted holiday shopping season. Walmart and Target both trimmed their yearly forecasts recently, citing economic factors like slow wage growth, unemployment and sliding consumer confidence. Executives at Best Buy cautioned that intense price competition on some items during the holidays was likely to affect their bottom line, despite its healthier performance recently.

Nov 21 2012

Walmart Black Friday Strike

Black Friday is the name given to the day after Thanksgiving. It marks the first day of the Christmas shopping season with grand bargains and the feeding frenzy of consumers to find the best price on the most desirable gifts for the holiday. The term originated in Philadelphia as a description of the crowded stores and heavy traffic the day after Thanksgiving. It later took on the meaning that it was the day retailers begin to turn a profit and are “in the black.”

It has taken on a new meaning for retail workers in the “big box” stores, who are now being forced to work and forgo their Thanksgiving holiday evening because the largest retailers, specifically Walmart, decided to open at 8 PM on Thursday. Most of these retail workers barely make a living wage, the typical employee is paid $22,100 a year, slightly below the federal poverty line for a family of four (which is at $23,050 in 2012). Walmart workers, although not unionized, have banded together to strike the retailer on Black Friday. Here is why:

   – WHY WORKERS ARE STRIKING: Workers – organized by non-union OUR Walmart – are protesting that Walmart continues to pay low wages and cut benefits, even while it is making billions of dollars in profits. The strikes that have occurred are the first in the 50 year history of the company. Workers have demanded “more-predictable schedules, less-expensive health-care plans and minimum hourly pay of $13 with the option of working full-time.” The company is increasing employee contributions towards its health plan in 2013. Walmart made $15 billion last year, and paid its CEO $18.1 million.

   – WALMART’S RESPONSE: The company has claimed that it is “not aware of any major disruptions that are going to happen Black Friday.” However, it has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the protests are being orchestrated by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which Walmart claims is a labor law violation.

   – WHY NOW?: Black Friday is not only one of the biggest shopping days of the year, but Walmart and other large retailers have steadily increased their Black Friday hours to extend into Thanksgiving Day. This year, Walmart’s “Black Friday” starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, so workers will miss Thanksgiving evening with their families. Employees claim “they weren’t given a choice as to whether they would work on Thanksgiving and were told to do so with little warning.”

The argument that Walmart cannot afford to raise pay and benefits claiming it would hurt their ability to keep prices low has quite a few holes. A study made by Demos show that by increasing wages not only do the workers benefit but so does industry and the economy as a whole:

   A wage standard at large retailers equivalent to $25,000 per year for full-time, year-round workers would increase GDP between $11.8 and $15.2 billion over the next year.

   As a result of the economic growth from a wage increase, employers would create 100,000 to 132,000 additional jobs.

   Effects on Retail Sales: Increased purchasing power of low-wage workers would generate $4 to $5 billion in additional annual sales for the sector. Much of the increased consumer spending by low-wage workers after the raise will return to the very firms that offered the raise. The average American household allocates 20 percent of their total expenditures toward retail goods, but for low-income households that proportion is higher. A raise for workers at large stores would bring billions of dollars in added retail spending back to the sector. Our study finds that:

   Assuming that workers do not save money out of their wage income, the additional retail spending by employees and their families generated by the higher wage would result in $4 to $5 billion in additional sales across the retail sector in the year following the wage increase.

The wage increase would hardly effect prices:

   The potential cost to consumers would be just cents more per shopping trip on average. If retail firms were to pass the entire cost on to consumers instead of paying for it by redirecting unproductive profits, shoppers would see prices increase by only 1 percent. But productivity gains and new consumer spending associated with the raise make it unlikely that stores will need to generate 100 percent of the cost. More plausibly, prices will increase by less than the total amount of the wage bill, spreading smaller costs across the entire population of consumers. The impact of rising prices on household budgets will be negligible, while the economic benefits of higher wages for low paid retail workers will be significant. Our study finds that:

   If retailers pass half of the costs of a wage raise onto their customers, the average household would pay just 15 cents more per shopping trip-or $17.73 per year.

   If firms pass on 25 percent of the wage costs onto their customers, shoppers would spend just 7 cents more per shopping trip, or $8.87 per year.

   Higher income households, who spend more, would absorb a larger share of the cost. Per shopping trip, high income households would spend 18 cents more, for a total of $36.80 per year. Low-income households would spend just 12 additional cents on their shopping list, or $24.87 per year.

As David Dayen noted reporting this at FDL News:

I would personally rather pay 15 cents more per shopping trip rather than pay the costs of a working individual who nevertheless has to go onto Medicaid or collect food stamps. What’s more, as a result of the economic boost from higher wages, I would probably make more money myself, so this would all come out in the wash. Prosperity for retail workers would really mean more prosperity for all.

Up with Chris Hayes host Chris Hayes discussed the Black Friday strike by Walmart employees with guests Greg Fletcher, a Walmart associate in Duarte, CA; Heather McGhee, vice president of Demos; Raymond Castillo, a member of Warehouse Workers United; and David frum, CNN contributer.

Nov 24 2011

Occupy Wall St.: Thanksgiving

Occupy Wall Street Thanksgiving

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This Thanksgiving, Occupy Wall Street is celebrating unity and community with an open feast at Liberty Square. From 2 to 6 p.m. at Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park) we will meet to share food, stories and inspiration. All members of our global community are invited to break bread with us.

“This is all about supporting the 99%,” said Megan Hayes, an organizer with the #OWS Kitchen working group, and a former high end chef. “So many people have given up so much to come and be a part of the movement because there is really that much dire need for community. We decided to take this holiday opportunity to provide just that – community.”

More than three thousand individually wrapped plates will be distributed on Thursday in accordance with New York State Health Code. People in the community have opened their homes to cook meals. Roger Fox in New Jersey will be making 250 meals, Mia Valh and Alia Gee are also making large numbers of meals. A lot of community organizations are involved and Liberty Cafe in East NY donates space for the #OWS Kitchen working group.

Locally owned family business, Texas BBQ will be providing 2,000 of the meals. They are being purchased with donated funds and will be served along with the home-cooked meals from supporters and food from the People’s Kitchen at Occupy Wall Street. The Owners of Texas BBQ are Egyptian and are supporters of the Occupy Movement.

Indigenous voices, religious leaders, food justice activists and leaders from peoples’ movements around the world are speaking on Thursday at Liberty Square. Occupy Thanksgiving is a celebration for the entire New York community. All are invited.

There will also be a can food drive. Donations of cans will go to local food banks and pantries throughout NYC.

#OCCUPYXMAS Kicks Off with Buy Nothing Day, Nov 25/26

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   You’ve been sleeping on the streets for two months pleading peacefully for a new spirit in economics. And just as your camps are raided, your eyes pepper sprayed and your head’s knocked in, another group of people are preparing to camp-out. Only these people aren’t here to support occupy Wall Street, they’re here to secure their spot in line for a Black Friday bargain at Super Target and Macy’s.

   Occupy gave the world a new way of thinking about the fat cats and financial pirates on Wall Street. Now lets give them a new way of thinking about the holidays, about our own consumption habits. Lets’ use the coming 20th annual Buy Nothing Day to launch an all-out offensive to unseat the corporate kings on the holiday throne.

   This year’s Black Friday will be the first campaign of the holiday season where we set the tone for a new type of holiday culminating with #OCCUPYXMAS. As the global protests of the 99% against corporate greed and casino capitalism continues, lets take the opportunity to hit the empire where it really hurts…the wallet.

   On Nov 25/26th we escape the mayhem and unease of the biggest shopping day in North America and put the breaks on rabid consumerism for 24 hours. Flash mobs, consumer fasts, mall sit-ins, community events, credit card-ups, whirly-marts and jams, jams, jams! We don’t camp on the sidewalk for a reduced price tag on a flat screen TV or psycho-killer video game. Instead, we occupy the very paradigm that is fueling our eco, social and political decline.

   Historically, Buy Nothing Day has been about fasting from hyper consumerism – a break from the cash register and reflecting on how dependent we really are on conspicuous consumption. On this 20th anniversary of Buy Nothing Day, we take it to the next level, marrying it with the message of #occupy…

   We #OCCUPYXMAS.

   Shenanigans begin November 25!

But if you must shop

Occupy Protesters: Shop Mom-And-Pop Stores, Not Chains, On Black Friday

PORTLAND, Ore. — Occupy protesters want shoppers to occupy something besides door-buster sales and crowded mall parking lots on Black Friday.

Some don’t want people to shop at all. Others just want to divert shoppers from big chains and giant shopping malls to local mom-and-pops. And while the actions don’t appear coordinated, they have similar themes: supporting small businesses while criticizing the day’s dedication to conspicuous consumption and the shopping frenzy that fuels big corporations.

Nearly each one promises some kind of surprise action on the day after Thanksgiving, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.