Money & Politics with Larry Kudlow

Early Bird Black Friday for the Birds!

Wal-Mart just announced that it would open at 10PM on Thanksgiving night. This follows other retailers who announced they, too, would be early bird openers.  One of them, Best Buy , says it will open at 9PM.

Thanksgiving is for giving thanks, for crying out loud, not for shopping!

George Washington, in the first Proclamation of Thanksgiving, recommended setting aside the day in November when we as a Nation would “all unite in rendering unto [the Almighty] our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country.”

I feel for the small businesses in this wounded economy. I feel for the retailers who have been releasing disappointing sales figures quarter after quarter. But is this really the way to go?

For many families, this is the one day a year when everyone can gather around and uphold the value of family. But the idea of a 9PM Thanksgiving shopping spree is where I have to break from free-market capitalism. The sanctity of family is being undermined by this need to be first in line for an I-phone. It also shows a sign of desperation by retailers.

“I would hope the average person is not going to leave the holiday table to get the 10 percent off,” says Stacey Widlitz, President of SW Retail Advisors (and a CNBC contributor). Last year, Black Friday brought in close to 10 percent of holiday sales. And while the busiest shopping days are Black Friday, the Saturday before Christmas, and December 23rd, how much of a benefit do retailers get for bringing in the extra staff and paying them holiday pay for being open just a few hours earlier. Widlitz adds that sales that occur anytime before Friday morning are just incremental. “It’s all about power of the headlines and who is first and who is perceived to a bigger and better deal,” she adds.

As a local news producer many years ago, I would see people lining up on Black Friday at 7AM and ask, “who would ever go so early?” The thought of 10PM on Thanksgiving night is just abhorrent.

In the most American of holidays, we should show the world that American values and virtues aren’t swayed by consumerism.

Early Bird Thanksgiving sales are for the birds.

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