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JLeslie's avatar

What do you think about Macy's Opening 12 Midnight Black Friday morning?

Asked by JLeslie (63225points) November 4th, 2011

I’m disgusted by it. I think it is inviting some sort of revolt by employees or the union to come in. As a side note Macy’s NYC is unionized, but the other stores aren’t. Other stores have been opening earlier and earlier also. I don’t see how you can ask employees who don’t typically work third shift hours to do just that. It’s unhealthy, unfair, and I think this has to stop.

I worked for Bloomingdale’s for many years in the 90’s, and I use to say the day they open at 8:00, and ask me to work the morning shift, I quit on the spot. Seems they have gotten to the point where they do indeed open at 8:00 on some holidays.

Here is one article.

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39 Answers

tom_g's avatar

Yep. I think it’s pretty absurd. I find it more disturbing, however, that there are fools who will be shopping there at 12am. For fuck’s sake people. Really?

zenvelo's avatar

I’d rather they open at midnight with no special early morning deals than deal with the trampling stampede at Best Buy, Toys R Us or Walmart.

Blackberry's avatar

My first day at Macys last year was on Black Friday. Needless to say it was a massacre. This is what pagans and christ wanted, though (apparently).~

Isn’t this just the “invisible hand” of the market, though? lol

JLeslie's avatar

@zenvelo Why are you lining up for that craziness? I would never do that.

nikipedia's avatar

If they’re compensating the employees well and making it voluntary that seems ok to me. My first year out of college I was working at Whole Foods to make ends meet, and they offered us double pay to voluntarily work Thanksgiving. At the time I was thrilled. (I probably would not do it today, though.)

wundayatta's avatar

No one is forcing anyone to go to one of these events. If a company wants to respond to the demand, I don’t have a problem with it. They seem to be able to get employees to do it, so perhaps the employees feel like they are being compensated well enough. We aren’t slaves. Even if the economy is down, people have the choice to walk.

By the way, it is much harder for unions to organize in down economies. These are the times when employees may need the protection of the union the most. But no one wants to risk losing a scarce job. There are too many people willing to step in.

I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t shop then, either. But if others want to, I’m happy to let them do it. I can sit back and tut-tut in my armchair (oh wait—no armchair. Maybe I better go to Black Friday and get one).

JLeslie's avatar

@nikipedia I have a hard time believing there aren’t at least some employees forced to work. Macy’s different than a grocery store, has to have significant coverage in their store to not get robbed blind. The first time we opened New Years day in my Bloomingdale’s we did it with a very light crew, and a lot of theft happened that day. Groceries are different. I’m sure Macy’s probably does ask employees who wants to work that day, to try and be as fair as possible, but if everyone on the security team doesn’t want to, someone will get stuck. Same with the a management team. Salespeople at least there are more people to choose from, but even in sales they are just 3–10 sales people in a particular department, with the exception of Cosmetics.

Possibly the new hires for Christmas were hired being asked if they will work those sort of hours, but you can’t have a whole store of new hires working that morning.

mazingerz88's avatar

I’ve never participated in any great sale event in my life and find it weird that people would show up in the cold at 4 am in the morning to invade a store. But then if these people are having fun doing it, I’m not going to criticize them much for it. This economy depends on the consumers a lot, and really a lot. But this question made me realize there are other issues involve so thanks for that. I never thought about it from the store’s employees pov until now. My concerns were usually about someone getting crushed in a stampede.

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie Was the theft your problem or the store’s problem?

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta Because of scarce jobs it is just the environment where employees have a hard time telling an employer no, even if the employee is miserable or really put out by the requirement. When I began with Bloomingdale’s store hours started at 10:00, 12:00 on Sundays. It is one of the very reasons I liked working retail, later hours, even some days working a late shift starting sometime between 12:00–1:00 depending. Then they start changing the deal, it feels unfair, because it was not what I agreed to when hired.

Christmas is already abusive, 6 days a week standing on your feet, much more inventory coming in, and increased selling. We actually got comp days for the extra days worked, not extra pay, but I have no idea if maybe they get extra pay for these early hours. I highly doubt it, but I don’t know. Anyway, all of us managers really were exhausted during the 5–6 weeks before Christmas, it is brutal, sales people too, but they don’t work a sixth day. In FL, to add insult to injury, we then go into high season! And, they ask us to wait for a slow time to take our comp days. Other parts of the country have a big drop off in business after New Years. Oh, and inventory is done in January also for part of the store, we went from Pre-Christmas, to after Christmas, which is a horrible day and week, to working Jan 1, to preparing for and executing inventory.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta The theft is the stores problem and my problem as a manager and employee. The store is not very happy if my department had a lot of shrinage at inventory time. I think it might have been on my review? I can’t remember for sure. If it was it was a very small percent, because I don’t remember ever being overly worried about it affecting my review. And, once that happened, they learned forever more they needed more than just 60 people working in the store at one time, and to make sure all departments near the doors had plenty of coverage, so it becomes the employees problem that they will be forced to work.

wundayatta's avatar

@JLeslie I am sympathetic to the feeling of being overworked. But I only know of two ways to deal with that. Either organize a union or quit. Otherwise you have to put up with it.

The outrage is good as a tactic for organizing the union. Of course, what power does the union have if there are many people eager for those jobs, and the management doesn’t care whether they have any experience in the job or not?

My wife just “retired” from her job because they were speeding up the work. And this is a highly trained professional position. She had a legal education and they were telling her to do photocopying and handle more and more customers in less and less time. It was clear they no longer cared about quality. They just wanted to get it done in a certain time, no matter how half-assed the job was.

I told her to quit. It wasn’t worth it. It was making her into a horrible person. Finally she did quit and now she is a SAHM, and she is far nicer and happier than I ever would have believed. The stress was taking far more out of her than I even knew. I think that if she had never had to work, our marriage would not have had nearly the problems it has had. Unfortunately I never made enough to carry us all on my own. But her income helped us save a lot, and so we don’t have to worry that she isn’t working any more.

Now she can take her time and figure out what she really wants for a second career, and she doesn’t have to take a job that will pressure her like that. Other people also have this choice, even if a lack of income would be a big problem. It’s a difficult choice and would cause much hardship, but it is a choice. Of course, that’s why most people stay in the job, even if it creates so much stress. That’s why my wife stayed in a miserable job for so long. For a long time, she couldn’t afford to leave.

I think it’s important to be reminded we have a choice. We don’t have to live in the style to which we have become accustomed. We can do with less. A lot less. Yet people don’t see that as an option, so they feel like they have no choice. That simply isn’t true.

JLeslie's avatar

@wundayatta I completely agree with you, people can quit. As I said at the top, if when I had been working at Bloomies they had asked me to come in for a morning shift with an 8:00 opening I would have quit on the spot. At the time I saw Burdines and Macy’s starting to do these early morning openings, and Bloomies had only gone as early as 9:00 on just a few days a year. I hope people do quit, I hope employees come together and refuse, without the union, I tend to be anti-union actually. I was not saying the union should come in, I was afraid the union might come in.

I’m glad you and your wife now get to enjoy a calmer time right now, and that she is happy with her decision to quit it seems, and so are you. I really think the country would be so much better if we were less materialistic oriented (is that the right way to state it, or is it less material oriented? It all sounds funny) and if we all had reasonable demands at work, with reasonable pay. Other countries at least have mkre help at home, but there are some problems with that too obviously, because those countries tend to have a lot of poverty, a large underclass. Still, the way it is now is awful.

Don’t get me wrong, overall I really enjoyed working at Bloomingdale’s and in retail in general. Christmas was part of the deal, and working other holidays, but as it became more demanding regarding these things, I became more and more annoyed.

zenvelo's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t line up for that craziness. The stock exchange is open a half day on Black Friday, so I often work 6 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. But it’s one day I like to shop at the Apple Store because it is the only day of the year they discount their prices.

I’d think if you are senior enough you could choose which shift to work. Graveyard is not that fun, but it might be better than afternoon at Macy*s that day.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I don’t see how they have a choice in this economy, period.

Kohl’s, Kmart & Walmart (and a few others I think) will all open between 10pm & Midnight on Thursday for Black Friday sales. As far as I know all of them will have different deals Thursday night & again on Friday.

I read that Kmart again plans to be open on Thanksgiving.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Thursday is Thanksgiving. I am confused by your statement.

@zenvelo In my store we usually worked a day we were willing to work so we could get a different one off, but they were all undesirable. For instance, I would always try to work Christmas Eve, so I could get Jan 1st off, but I did not always get what I wanted. There were years I worked both, and I had been there for years. It was more we tried to be as fair as possible, and not so much based on seniority. The seniority payed in maybe in a minor way. At least in my store we had many many Jews, so we usually had volunteers for Christmas Eve, and Jewish people could easily take off on Jewish holidays. Not the case where I live now.

Also, graveyard is almost impossible for some people. If they have kids, if they simply have a hard time being awake. I don’t know how old you are, but I would have never have asked one of my 60 year old employees to work 12 midnight-8:30am.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@JLeslie Various stores are opening prior to Midnight on Friday and staying opening 24hrs or more.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover I actually have more problem with the very extended hours than being open Thanksgiving day, but I also think Thanksgiving they should not be open. Some stores where I live are now open on Easter, and I think that is awful too. In FL I would have had less trouble with it, since we had so many Jewish people there. I think tailoring to a community should matter, the same way we do for school days off. But, Thanksgiving, New Years day, even July 4th I think stores should be closed. Those are American Holidays that most people celebrate. I would even add Halloween Eve.

Cruiser's avatar

I think the whole Xmas gift thing has gotten out of control. When I was a kid a good part of our gifts were all hand made.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I agree @JLeslie. However, 50% of retail sales occur during 4th quarter. This isn’t going to change for retail anytime soon. Macy’s and all the others now have to compete with all of the major online retailers.

Most likely I will be shopping at Midnight on Friday, but I will be catching some online deals.

@Cruiser I don’t even shop for gifts for anyone but my son at this point. However, with some of the electronic deals and the fact that I need a new laptop, Black Friday will get some of my money.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover But, retail sales have not increased by leaps and bounds. It is just having the same sales over more hours of the day. When we used to open early we rang up very little in those early hours. Sure some stores will say they did huge numbers in the first two hours if they have those crazy special sales at opening, but if they did those sales at regular opening time it would be the same thing. The big reason for those early morning sales is so the customer goes to your store first hoping they buy the majority of their xmas list at your store. That is why the competition gets earlier and earlier. If they all decided to be sane again, it would all balance out. Most stores set up Black Friday sales Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so really you can get all the same prices on Wednesday. The reason this happens is because since employees don’t work on Thanksgiving, they need to set up Wednesday. But, that usually is not including the door buster early morning items that are only there for that event.

There is nothing I have to buy that I feel compelled to inconvenience myself that much. Stores like Bloomingdale’s, Saks, Neimans would not need the customer to come in at all, the salesperson would ring it up for them without them there.

SpatzieLover's avatar

If they all decided to be sane again, it would all balance out.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that’ll be happening anytime soon. Too many major retailers will make it or break it again this quarter. If one opens, others will follow and so it goes.

Once one major mall anchor store opens at midnight, they almost all follow. Once they follow, then the mall runs an “open all night” special.

Even our malls here have sent out Santa deals already.

I just received another emal from a local mall for 50% off Santa photos with a survey attached: “How likely are you to visit this mall because of this deal?”. They’re already setting themselves up for running more coupon deals. If you buy a voucher online, you can get X% off on a shopping trip to their mall.

JLeslie's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yeah, I know my wish won’t come true any time soon. Malls can control when stores can open, but they aren’t going to put the kabosh on it either. It will continue this way until there is some sort of huge backlash by employees, or if customers stop shopping early. Neither seems to be happening for now.

I wanted to say that I have no problem with stores that are open 24 hours routinely. Some pharmacies, Meijers, I think maybe Walmart is, not sure. My objection is only to asking employees to work extremely different hours than they commonly work.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I feel the same way you do. I think they are all playing with their employees. However, so many people are without jobs at this point that the employees have no leverage here.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I think it all depends on how the situation is handled, in-store. Do they ask for volunteers or do they force employees to do it? Do the employees get anything “extra” for those hectic hours?

As for shopping Black Friday itself, I don’t find it crazy/insane/stupid at all. Some people have a great time doing it and they get things that their children have asked for at awesome prices. I actually went for the first time last year. It was a combination of fun and tiring at the same time. I was at Walmart at 9:30 Thursday night, to get in a line to buy the Leapster that my daughter wanted. It was half price. I picked up a few other things while I was there, and that part of the sale began at midnight. There were other items, like electronics and such, where you weren’t allowed to actually touch the item until 5AM. I got my parents a GPS that I knew they had been wanting. It was 75% off normal price. And they’re still using it and love it.

So yeah, Christmas may be too commercial nowadays, but if you know a certain family member (especially your own kids) has been wanting something specific, and you know they’re going to use it, and you know you’re going to get an amazing deal on it, shopping Black Friday is worth it.

I will admit, though, that some of the people at Walmart last year went a little nuts as soon as the employees unwrapped the huge cube of $10 Nintendo DS games. Sheer pandemonium.

I’ll also add that most of the employees I saw seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves. They were singing along with Christmas music and passing out 5 Hour Energy Shots and powdered donut holes to everyone in line. The employee who was guarding our GPS waiting line was hilarious and was joking around with me about letting me grab my GPS a few minutes early and he would pretend to be knocked out. We had a blast with that guy.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I was not saying people who shop on black Friday or crazy, insane, or stupid. I understand it can be fun, an event, a tradition. I am only arguing that the fun and crazy can happen at 9:00 in the morning, just like it can at 5:00am.

Blackberry's avatar

Ahh, the holidays are here again…..Threads about Black Friday, and next will be the persecution of christmas. Yayness.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Blackberry Santa is one letter away from Satan. ;)

Cruiser's avatar

@SpatzieLover I know what you mean. So much of what does go on sale I don’t equate with traditional “Christmas Gifts”. I will be hard pressed to not find myself in line to get a Kindle on sale. But if it is anything like last year, on-line retailers will be giving brick and mortar stores a run for their money.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

LOL @SpatzieLover!

@JLeslie No, no, I wasn’t implying that you did. I just meant that I’ve heard a lot of people who think that and say things like “I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that; it’s just not worth it!” I wanted to point out that when I did it last year (for the first time ever) the employees seemed to be having fun and no one really seemed as though they’d been coerced or didn’t want to be there. And that was at our local Walmart, where I assume there is more pressure to participate. There’s always employer to employee pressure at Walmart, haha.

I don’t know how that Macy’s handles it, but I would hope that no one would be forced to do it if they already had plans or just plain didn’t want to.

And I guess one of the points of doing it at midnight and 5 AM is that if you’re willing to go, then you’ll get better deals on things than those who don’t go. Maybe like an incentive to sit in the store all night and wait… so you’ll end up buying more things while you wait and make more money for the store? That’s my assumption.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Again, probably most stores ask for volunteers first, but then there are inevitably emplyees who will be basically forced also. Everyone was required to work Black Friday in every store I worked in except for part timers who never worked Fridays, although they still might be asked if they are able to.

The employees in the store better act like they are happy to be there or I am writing them up as their manager. I don’t care if they are miserable. A comment about being tired, or have been there since midnight fine if they wind up in a friendly conversation, but they still better smile, say hello, and seem overall happy to serve. Lights, camera, action.

The reason they want people to shop early is to get the shoppers in their store first. Assuming they will stay in that store for a while, and do the majority of their list there. The low priced items are kind of like a loss leader in a way, but maybe they actually still make a profit, or at least break even on the items. It used to be some states did not allow loss leaders, it was illegal, I am not sure what the laws are like now.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@JLeslie Interesting. It does suck that some people are forced into it.

JLeslie's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate I should add that the people I worked with overall were happy to work there. This was true when I was at Bloomingdale’s and other retailers. But, sometimes we were pushed too far in my opinion. I just attended a 25th anniversary party celebrating 25 years since the bloomingdale’s I worked for opened. Over 100 past employees showed up. Even two daughters of a former colleague who had passed away came in her place. It was awesome, we were a family, I still miss working with them.

YARNLADY's avatar

My Grandson was a holiday worker at Macy’s a couple of years ago, and he says the employees actually fight for a chance to get as many hours as they can. Those with seniority get first choice, and the holiday workers get what’s left. He was grateful for every hour he got.

I think it’s a fun game for the people who participate in the shopping. Several restaurants are also advertising special meals and times for Black Friday. I love all the hype.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY It probably matters where the person lives. In Boca Raton, FL I can’t see that happening so fast. But, Boca is affluent, many people are in their 60’s working in the stores, and many don’t need extra cash. And, I am assuming your son was not in one of the stores that opened midnight last year? I wonder if people will feel the same with those hours. Also, I was a manager, and managers are salaried and don’t get extra pay, so the mgr perspective is probably different than the salespeople.

augustlan's avatar

How did I miss this question?! My daughter is dealing with this situation right now, and I think it’s terrible. She’s spending Thanksgiving day with family, as usual, and is then scheduled to work from 11 PM Thanksgiving night to 11 AM Friday morning. It’s absurd! When is she supposed to get some sleep before working that 12 hour overnight shift?

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie California, part-time worker desparate for the extra money.

Ela's avatar

Every year Black Friday seems to happen earlier (Target had a Pre Black Friday 4 day sale this year).
In my opinion, you can not compare Macys’ or Bloomingdales to Target, Wal-Mart or K-Mart. They are in totally different leagues and the only common ground with them is that they are retail stores and completely different retail stores at that.
I don’t believe many people have the luxury of having the choice to just walk out @wundayatta. I always have the option to find a different job, but as far as just walking out, I have no choice. I depleted my savings when I got divorced. I have bills to pay and children to feed.
I attend school part-time and work part-time days (4 hours) but tonight I will be working 9:45pm -7am (over 9 hours) not because of my business, but because of the crazy assed obsessive people who insist on shopping at those hours!
Everyone likes to shake a finger at the business and say shame on them, but without the demand the business would not do it. Last year my store pulled in over $400,000 in the first 4 hours alone so I can’t say that I blame them. I blame the people who make this a demand. More and more society is looking for instant gratifications yet when given them, they are still not content and demand more! Businesses compete for the early sales mainly because shoppers show up for them.
I have worked overnight on Thanksgiving/Black Friday for 6 years. Last year I worked 12am-9am and the years prior had always been 5am-2pm. This year I was asked if I wanted to work overnight and since I would be stuck working no matter what I said yes. I’ve found it’s better to work these hours than the 5am shift. Everything dies down after 10am, time drags and it gets very tiring.

On the flipside, it is exciting and I make the best of it. The energy in the air is amazing, people are generally in an upbeat mood. I could see myself shopping a Black Friday with someone but not alone. There is a group of people in my area that go out every year. There are 6–10 of them (both male and female) that meet up at various stores wearing matching sweatshirts. They sing and laugh and have a wonderful time. They make it a fun event!
I like to focus on the people like these, who really enjoy it, rather than the ones who drag their toddlers out of bed and keep them up all night.

JLeslie's avatar

@EnchantingEla Is where you work a 24 hours store every day? Or a very early opneing anyway? My objection is to ask people to work third shift when they never do, and never will the rest of the year. It screws up their sleep pattern. Most Walmarts are 24 hours. Many Targets open very early anyway. Macy’s not the case. There are people working Thanksgiving day, and I am not even griping about that. My only serious objection is people being forced to work a shift they never would apply for or want to work.

I do agree Christmas in the stores, although exhausting, can be fantastic. I didn’t grow up understanding the big deal about the Christmas season, but then I started to work in retail and I thoroughly enjoyed the transformation of the stores, and the overall happy mood.

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