The Christmas shopping season has now grown so long, it's officially bumped into Thanksgiving.
Macy's has announced it will begin its Black Friday sales at 6 p.m., Nov. 27, before the leftovers even have a chance to get cold. Kohl's and Sears followed suit and will open at the same time. While J.C. Penney went a step further and announced it will open at 5 p.m., and Kmart plans to begin its Black Friday push on Thanksgiving before the break of dawn.
Even as this year marked yet another encroachment into retail employees’ holidays, it's also been notable for the number of companies pushing back. Nordstrom, Costco and more than two dozen other national brands are electing to keep their doors shut on Thanksgiving and are offering associates a welcomed day off. Among them is southeastern grocery chain Publix, which was also celebrated this week as a great workplace in retail. In contrast to many employers that offer scant, if any, paid time off to hourly associates, this employee-owned grocer proudly tallies an average of 16 paid holidays and vacation days for people who've been with the company at least a year. Working over the holidays might seem like a foregone conclusion for many in the service industry, but with more than 167,000 employees, Publix proves that doesn't necessarily have to be the case.
Of course, people still need gas, beverages and other last-minute provisions. The 24/7 nature of convenience stores means some of the employees at QuikTrip – another company on our great retail workplace list – will inevitably be on the clock. But at least their employer tries to make it worth their while: QuikTrip pays time and a half for most holidays and double-time pay on Christmas and Easter. Additionally, many team members also say they appreciate a degree of scheduling flexibility throughout the year.
"QuikTrip is extremely flexible with work hours and time-off requests. I am able to work when it's most convenient for me, and I love that aspect," says one employee surveyed by Great Rated!
Meanwhile, back at the mall, another employer on our list of great retail workplaces will join those storefronts closed until Black Friday actually starts. Shoe seller DSW not only appreciates employees' family time during the holidays, it also makes this commitment evident by giving store personnel three Fridays off every summer. Additionally, associates confirm DSW works to accommodate their needs when scheduling shifts throughout the year.
"DSW does a better job than some retailers in supporting a work/home-life balance," says one of DSW's 10,000 U.S. employees. "For home office associates, DSW provides more than the standard six company-observed holidays (we have nine). I can say I am proud that we are not open on Thanksgiving, as many other retailers are these days."
Hours outside the standard nine-to-five can be a fact of life in retail. But even in this fiercely competitive sector, it's still possible to find examples of employers willing to forego a bit of their holiday revenue potential in order to respect their team members' commitments at home.
Kim Peters is CEO of Great Rated!™.