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Why Stores Shouldn’t Force Retail Employees to Work on Holidays


For many of us, Black Friday came early this year, thanks to stores like Walmart and Toys R Us who decided to open up early, on Thursday night instead of the usually crack of Friday morning. But what about the employees who had to work on Thanksgiving? Turns out, many of them were less than thrilled to go face the crowds from the other side of the register so soon after dinner.

Harvard Business Review’s blog network took a look at the phenomenon of making retail employees work on holidays, and found that the costs vastly outweigh the benefits.

Sure, retailers make a bundle of money, and customers save a few bucks. But, as columnist Zeynep Ton points out, the gains are temporary at best and illusory at worst.

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“What retailers don’t realize is that their ‘lean and mean’ treatment of employees isn’t even helping their bottom lines,” Ton writes. “If you study the longer-term consequences of treating employees this way as I have, you find that when retailers do not invest in their people, their operations suffer and their stores are full of problems such as products in the wrong place or with the wrong price, obsolete products on the shelves, and long checkout lines. These problems reduce sales and profits.”

As for the customers, Ton says, ten dollars off on Friday is just as good at ten dollars off on Thursday — not to mention the fact that nothing can replace those hours of lolling around on the living room floor as a family, complaining about how much you all overate and pretending to watch football.

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(Photo Credit: lululemon athletica/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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