From the Desk of a Gen X Dad… Are Millennials to Blame for Stores Being Open on Thanksgiving?

TIME Magazine recently ran an article about how 18–34 year olds plan to shop on the Black Friday “holiday.” It explains that Millennials openly accept how the biggest shopping day of the year now seeps over into Thanksgiving evening. According to the article, Millennials think it’s a great idea and will be out in full force. And that has a lot of folks upset… namely the Baby Boomer generation who, you know, raised the Millennials and basically created Black Friday.

This whole article was quite surprising to me and, I have to admit, I don’t align with all of what they said. So here I am with ideas and reactions. To begin with, my understanding was that Millennials did all their shopping online. So if this was an article about the explosion of Virtual Monday, it would make total sense.

Also missing from the article is a tried and true BridgeWorks understanding of Millennials—they crave the experiences. They would rather pay for a nice dinner or a fun concert than buy a new car. Millennials treat Black Friday as an experience. They enjoy the freedom to head out after the family Thanksgiving to stand in line with their friends and partake in the experience (probably snapping selfies). Retail shops are very open to helping with these “experiences.” For example, Target supplied Luna bars to folks waiting in line last year. Even if Millennials don’t buy anything in the store, they’ll definitely blog about it or purchase it online later.

TIME cited that Millennials are four times more likely to shop on Black Thursday and Friday than their Boomer parents. This makes sense, as Boomers are the ones who will be hosting Thanksgiving, so they don’t want to go stand in line. Furthermore, Baby Boomers, along with Traditionalists, were raised with the mentality that family is a priority and to leave and go shopping is just not done.

The funny thing is, the frustration that may arise from Boomers seeing their kids rush off to Best Buy after pumpkin pie is comparable to everything we know about the Boomer/Millennial relationship in the workplace. Boomers often complain about the new Millennial employee’s sense of entitlement to do whatever they please. Of course, not to be forgotten, Boomers are also the same helicopter parents who instilled certain traits into Millennials (the great and the not so great). Also, Black Friday became a holiday tradition back in the seventies when a certain generation was heading out to the malls without even waiting to finish off the turkey leftovers.

Then of course, there are the Generation Xers, caught in the middle of it all. They are the parents out on the front lines of the shopping war on Black Friday, looking for that affordable big name toy or game for their kids. Boomers may have built Black Friday, Millennials may be revising how we shop on Black Thursday, but Xers are the ones actively using it to put presents under the tree. Skeptical Xers will be the ones scouring the newspaper/online ads on Thanksgiving (or earlier) to see what is on sale, making sure that it is worth their while to stand in a long line. And it usually is! So, are Millennials to blame for stores being open on Thanksgiving? Instead of placing blame this holiday season, let's agree that all generations play some part in the shopping madness.

No matter when you shop—early, late, online, or not at all—we at BridgeWorks hope you have an enjoyable “experience” this holiday!