Background for anyone unfamiliar with Black Friday: (wikipedia says Black Friday is pushed by retailers in other countries too now)
Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the US. Traditionally stores were closed. The day after (Black Friday) was a heavy day for shopping. Stores would open early in the morning and folks would camp out on line trying to get the best deals. In recent years, the times stores open has crept earlier with stores opening at midnight. Then a few years ago the time started creeping up. This year, the majority of big stores are open for at least part of the day on Thursday. Many opened at 5pm or 6pm. Radio Shack was open 8-12 and then again at 5pm because employees complained about them being open all day. I don't think that's what their employees had in mind.
In my neighborhood, it used to be the drug stores, diners and Boston Market that were open on Thanksgiving. This year, I passed by a number of clothing, cosmetic stores, various restaurants, etc that were open. I spent money on three things today and two of them were from machines (ATM and metrocard machine.) The third was the diner. Which is family owned and closes early so they can eat together. It also doesn't bother me that Boston Market is open because they sell holiday food and had a line down the block all day. (Although I think they used to close earlier; this year they are open until 9pm)
I've never gone shopping on Black Friday. But I don't like how the retailers are taking the holiday away from people by creating the expectation of everything being open. I do like the Macys parade which is quite commercial. And this creeping earlier of opening times is going to be a problem for them soon. They have a lot of their employees helping with the parade. When stores decide to open at 10am on Thanksgiving, they have a direct conflict.
I'm also disturbed that the "Christmas season" is already over a month long. There were holiday sales before Thanksgiving. Last year, I heard Christmas music in a food store before Veterans Day (November 11th). I bought something at Best Buy earlier in the month and was told I can return it until a few days into January due to it being the "holiday season." It wasn't the holiday season in my mind.
Finally as I finish my rant, I'd like to commend stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond and PC Richard & Sons for remaining closed on Thanksgiving. I hope they do well tomorrow and the decision doesn't hurt them.
I do like the idea of holidays being off from work (although in my neck of the woods that isn't an issue, it's rare even on Sundays for any stores to be allowed to open). Nevertheless, just for completeness of the discussion, here are some counter arguments.
Well I'm in the UK so no problems with shops opening on Thursday (we don't have Thanksgiving). The shops here have been pushing 'Black Friday' in recent years though, with Amazon leading the way this year. It's caused a significant amount of disruption this year, really bringing out the worst in people (see this link on the BBC). It really makes no sense here because the shops were open as normal all week so there is no loss of business to make up for.
Large shops (above a certain square footage) are legally restricted as to how long they're allowed to open on Sundays and holidays (such as Christmas day and Bank Holidays) but most of them stay shut on Christmas day as far as I know, which is as close as we get to Thanksgiving over here.
We don't have thanksgiving of course, nor many other celebrations like for example Halloween. But I do think shops should be closed for some fixed times. For both the people working in the shop, as for people living in an area where there are a lot of shops. I once worked in Korea. We went to the shopping centre and the Korean guy proudly said the shops were open every day until midnight. I asked him, when do people who live here sleep then? And was not positively impressed by these opening hours. Rather the other way around.
I'm also disturbed that the "Christmas season" is already over a month long
Well in the Netherlands we have Saint Nicolas day first on the fifth of December. Before that, no Christmas songs, no people decorating their houses. So immigrate to the Netherlands? I would doubt if you would like to hear Saint Nicolas songs all day though. It is a children's celebration.