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Retail employees need a break

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editorial cartoon by Jacob Bogdanoff and Des Delgadillo

editorial cartoon by Jacob Bogdanoff and Des Delgadillo

With Black Friday quickly approaching, most stores are preparing for the biggest shopping day of the year, but one notable store is absent from these proceedings.

Recreational Equipment Inc., REI, recently announced that it would be closing its doors on Black Friday, a huge first step in giving part of the Thanksgiving weekend back to its employees.

Choosing to keep the doors closed on Black Friday is a bold enough statement on its own, but REI pushed it even further when it announced that its 12,000 employees would still be paid for the day. REI CEO Jerry Stritzke said employees should instead use the Friday after Thanksgiving as a day to spend with family outdoors, which incidentally happens to be the company’s bread and butter.

Giving employees Black Friday off is an incredibly generous gesture on the sports apparel giant’s behalf. Not only can employees spend more time with their families on a traditionally important holiday weekend, but they can spend it knowing their wallets will not suffer later.

A similar change will be coming from Nordstrom, which in the past has opened on Thanksgiving to give shoppers an early jump on sales and Black Friday pandemonium.

Nordstrom stores will remain closed on Thanksgiving so employees can at the very least enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their families. They might still have to work on Black Friday, but it is better to enjoy part of a holiday weekend than none at all.

Moves that take employees into consideration show a much needed compassionate side of a usually shrewd business. It is a relief to see a business treat its workers like real people with real families trying to maintain real relationships.

Hopefully, fully staffed stores will become less necessary, and employees will see more holidays off based on circumstance alone. Maybe other stores will learn from the example of REI and Nordstrom and reach some sort of compromise with employees about working on holidays.

Coming from massive corporations, these gestures may seem inconsequential, but in a world so reliant on sales quotas, every positive gesture counts, no matter how small.

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