Has giving thanks been sold for a bargain?

Shopping is overtaking eating as the national pastime for Thanksgiving. Are shoppers being urged to gorge themselves unnecessarily?

Shopping is overtaking eating as the national pastime for Thanksgiving, and shoppers are being urged to gorge themselves unnecessarily, says one retail expert.

“Everyone is anticipating the season’s start, and we are seeing much more aggressive retailers with more deals for customers,” says Mickey Gee, M.A., executive-in-residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business. “Retailers look at this season like a big pie, and everybody is doing what they can to get their initial slice because once the slices are gone they’re gone.

“Already consumers are being pelted with pre-releases of Black Friday or Thanksgiving deals,” says Gee. “Around 55 percent of retailers are going to send out special emails to their customers, and almost 40 percent are putting up specials on Facebook pages.”

Though Black Friday’s big sales have made it the busiest shopping day of the year, Gee, former owner of a Birmingham-based retail chain, says not to be misled into thinking those are the best or only deals to be had this season. Retailers make the bulk of their revenue during the 10 days before Christmas, he says.

“Having been a retailer for over 40 years, I see Thanksgiving as one of the few family days we have left,” says Gee. “I hope stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is a trend that doesn’t catch on.”

And he is not the only one. Anthony Hardwick, a Target employee from Omaha, started an online petition against his employer. The petition, located on Change.org, is titled “Tell Target to Save Thanksgiving.” Hardwick’s petition is closing in on 200,000 digital signatures one week before Thanksgiving.

“These are big corporations and it is either greed or fear that they are going to miss a piece of the holiday season pie” that motivates them, Gee says. “When you fly into the pie and try to gobble it all up at one time, then it gets messy.”