Black Friday wasn’t always marketing’s bad boy. The term was first coined in the 1950s when many factory workers called in sick the day after Thanksgiving. In the 1960s, the Philadelphia police used the term to describe the traffic, crowds, and general mayhem. It was not until the 1980s that retailers realized they had a marketing opportunity, and made Black Friday about being “in the black”. At the time of Reagan consumerism, this tactic to sell Black Friday in a new way was brilliant, for the short term. Over the past 30 years, the meaning of Black Friday has shifted. People feel the need to shop on Black Friday for the sales, not because they have the money. Stores are feeding the needs of the consumer, so they continue to open their doors earlier every year. Now consumers are beginning to push back against the tradition, and the stores will have to respond.

As the consumer shifts its priorities back to celebrating the holiday with their families, retailers need a new marketing tactic. The Facebook page supporting the boycott has a list of “Shop This, Not That” with a list of stores that are open on Thanksgiving and stores that are open the day after. The stores that will open on Friday now seem like stores that care. Major chains like Target and Wal-Mart are not worried yet, but there has been a buzz surrounding the issue. The number of people joining the boycott has increased over the last few years, even in the last few days. Stores will have to respond to this by marketing towards this particular audience. Is there a way to market your brand and make money while still being compassionate?

Marketing is about communication. These large retailers that are open on Thursday believe that the consumer communicates with their wallet. Those that are boycotting are communicating with their wallets by not opening them, but also with their voices through word of mouth and social media. As the movement grows in the future, their collective voice will grow and have to be heard. Consumers are launching their own marketing campaign with the boycott, one based in compassion for retail employees. Major corporations could take the opportunity to appeal to the heart as a marketing strategy and still beat out the competition.

Do you believe retail stores should remain closed on Thanksgiving when movie theater employees, restaurant staff, hotel staff football players including all the many minimum wage employees it takes to run the the stadiums (concession, parking, janitorial services), truck drivers, dairy farmers, TV and radio workers, and emergency infrastructure employees such as nurses, doctors, power company employees, air traffic controllers, police and firemen are required to work that day regardless?