The American Consumer’s Favorite Thanksgiving Tradition? Complaining

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Amid much grumbling about consumerism and chaos taking over the once sacred Thanksgiving holiday, various voices are calling for an end to Thanksgiving store hours, Black Friday, Cyber Monday — and even Thanksgiving itself.

Among the holiday traditions that some would like to see disappear, or at least moved:

Thanksgiving Day Shopping. This year’s expansion of stores open on Thanksgiving Day has been met, predictably, by an increase in grumbling about stores open on Thanksgiving Day. Yet despite the protests calling for the return of Thanksgiving as a work-free, shopping-free day reserved for families, despite polls indicating that the vast majority of Americans think stores should be closed on the holiday, and despite even the fact that only a small minority of American consumers will physically go shopping on Thanksgiving itself, there appears to be no end in sight to “retailer creep” into Thanksgiving dinner.

Why do so many retailers insist on pulling employees away from their families in order for stores to open on the holiday? A Detroit News story explains:

The answer is the same you’ll hear from the throng of shoppers surging through the doors for those blockbuster holiday deals: fear of missing out.

No matter if Thanksgiving shopping makes sense or not, the competitors involved — shoppers and retailers alike — feel compelled to participate if others are in the game.

Black Friday. Partially because of Thanksgiving store hours, as well as seasonal sales and promotions launched months earlier, some retail experts have predicted that Black Friday is heading toward extinction, or at least facing decreased relevancy in terms of overall holiday sales.

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The total spent by in-store shoppers last Black Friday fell compared with Black Friday of 2011, and polls indicate that fewer and fewer consumers will bother shopping in brick-and-mortar stores on Black Friday going forward. According to a Nielsen survey, 85% of American consumers would not hit the stores on Black Friday 2013, compared with 80% who wouldn’t participate in 2010.

The Consumerist suggests that perhaps it’s time to just go ahead and shift Black Friday away from its traditional slot on the day after Thanksgiving. In order to eliminate the “need” for Thanksgiving Day store hours, and also allow retailers to expand peak shopping season further, the Consumerist post, published one week before Black Friday 2013, posits:

Why not declare that Black Friday is the Friday before Thanksgiving? It’s not like it’s a date established in any religious or legal texts. It’s just a day on a calendar that lots of people have off from work.

Since most people don’t have off today but do have off this weekend, retailers could have started Black Friday sales after regular closing hours tonight with the same doorbuster deals they will be offering next Friday.

Cyber Monday. If Black Friday is arguably pushing toward irrelevancy, Cyber Monday may be even less necessary. Online sales on Cyber Monday increase year after year, and this year’s sales tally will surely top that of 2012. But shoppers know that hot e-retail deals can pop up on almost any day, meaning that every day is potentially Cyber Monday in terms of special pricing.

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Because “always-connected consumers are ready and eager for holiday deals regardless of the date, time or location,” Matt Kelley writes for Reuters that it’s “time to retire Cyber Monday.” Online sales and promotions wouldn’t go away, of course. “Retailers that offer attractive deals and make it as easy as possible for people to buy no matter where they are — whether on mobile, tablet, desktop, speaking to a call center or in-store — are going to be the winners, regardless of the date on the calendar.”

Thanksgiving Itself. “Join me and we’ll defeat the turkey hucksters and abolish Thanksgiving,” writes the Chicago Tribune’s Rex W. Huppke, in an extremely tongue-in-cheek column calling for a ban on Turkey Day — because it gets in the way of shopping and the further spread of the Christmas season. “Thanksgiving pumps us full of food, making us sluggish and incapable of decking any halls,” Huppke explains, “all while keeping the neighborhood Target store closed until the wholly unreasonable hour of 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.”

Another columnist, Dave Burdick of the Denver Post, jokingly suggests that consumers should fully embrace the retailer intrusion on the holiday. “Have you considered pushing Thanksgiving dinner to 5 a.m. to get a jump on the competition?” Burdick even proposes that Thanksgiving store hours could be “a good thing,” as “it forces an honest assessment of priorities. Spend Thanksgiving Day with friends and family or rush off to the shops? It wasn’t quite a choice before, but now it is.”

(MORE: Your Favorite Toys From the ’90s Get an Upgrade This Holiday Season)

While the idea of abolishing Thanksgiving or moving Thanksgiving dinner to a pre-breakfast slot in the day are surely jokes, there are some serious proposals out there to move Thanksgiving to a different time on the calendar. In a TIME column, Steve Friess points out that the original Thanksgiving was celebrated much earlier in the fall, that the official day for Thanksgiving has been changed in the past (during FDR’s presidency), and that the powers that be are known to mess with the calendar to boost the economy (see: tweaks to daylight saving and holidays like Columbus Day). To ensure there are five shopping weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Friess suggests pushing Turkey Day back during years like 2013, when it falls particularly late in November:

Why not, for the good of all that is good and holy about Best Buy and Hobby Lobby, reschedule it for, say, the Thursday before the fourth Sunday of the month?