BRAINTREE, MA - NOVEMBER 23: Shoppers hurried through the aisles in Target during Black Friday at South Shore Plaza in Braintree. (Photo by Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A backlash on social media unfolded this month as the retailers made it clear that Black Friday would seep into Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah yesterday.
Although Massachusetts state law prevented big retailers from opening before midnight today, many residents were still bewildered at the night owl hours and the strain it could put on employees who were pulled away from their homes late last night.
In Massachusetts, Kmart kicked off sales right at the stroke of midnight, while Sears waited until 12:30 a.m. Walmart held off until 1 a.m. as did Best Buy and Target.
"It's just a sign of disrespect for workers," said Russ Davis, executive director of Massachusetts Jobs With Justice. "(Employees) can't even have a day off to enjoy with their families. They have to go in (before midnight) and start stocking shelves."
According to Barbara Bickart, associate professor of marketing at Boston University, the early Black Friday openings were brought on by retailers' interest in staying one step ahead of the holiday shopping game.
"It's definitely because of competitive pressure. People are going to be spending more this year on holiday gifts than they have in the past. The retailers feel like they have to be open first, and be the most accessible," said Bickart.
Opposition was strong on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, where users plead with would-be shoppers to stay home yesterday, particularly in parts of the country that allowed retailers to open early in the day.
"I think that the people most likely to talk are the people opposed to the shopping. That idea does resonate with quite a few people, and with social media, they have the opportunity to say how they feel. I don’t think you’ll see the other side. They’ll just be out shopping."