Leaders and decision makers in the retail industry face numerous levels of moral and emotional dilemmas each year as the holiday season approaches. This varies from sales concerns to the most appropriate manner to be politically correct in introduce the season. With the goal at the end of the season staying consistently focused on the increase of sales that are produced by holiday shoppers, the tendency in recent years has been to stay open for as many hours as possible in order to provide an excellent shopping experience with limited emphasize on any one particular belief. This seemed to be an appropriate way to maneuver through the holidays without appearing bias while increasing sales by increasing availability. However, according to Harwell (2014) business leaders are now taking a step back and “hoping the moral high ground will pay off even more.” This next phase in altering the approach to the holidays has come full circle and the focus has given shoppers and employees alike a new momentum in motivation.

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According to a recent news story, the shoppers who had been the original reason for the stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, had made it clear that they did not intend to take away the holidays for the industry’s lower level employees. The shoppers, although they were present at the openings, claimed that this showed an element of greed on the part of the business owners who were not at the locations working on the holidays. Additionally, the shoppers claimed that the businesses were unfairly pulling them away from family time and holiday events. In response, many of the workers showed disgruntlement and shoppers began to claim that they would no longer attend these events.

In light of the emotional outbreaks from shoppers and businesses, the business leaders had to investigate the scenario. The information collected showed that 45% of shoppers intended to cease their holiday attendance. This would leave the big retailers with a store full of disgruntled employees and sales that were nearly cut in half. The business leaders responded and fortunately have done so this year before the claims of the shoppers last year became a reality. Stores across the nation are placing signs in their window that state the store will remain closed so that the employees can spend time with their families. Jim von Maur, president of Von Maur, a Midwest department store chain reportedly stated that they are successful the other days of the year because of their employee’s hard work and the holidays should remain sacred for all of the members of the store’s family (Harwell, 2014). This immediately shifted the focus from the shoppers to the employees and lifted employee moral during a time period where they were previously considered to be pawns in an outright sales war in the retail industry.

While there are some stores that note that the amount of profit gained continues to be worth the disgruntlement of the shoppers and the employees, business leaders in the industry are beginning to make this shift towards closures. The purpose behind the shift is clearly to avoid the backlash from shoppers who feel that opening is disruptive. However, business leaders who are well versed in handling a difficult scenario, have been able to turn the backlash into a motivation for the employees. They expect to see the employees present and well rested, as well as motivated to push the sales, early the following morning when the traditional holiday kickoff begins on Black Friday. Being able to use this scenario that began with employee dissatisfaction and turning it into a source of employee motivation, is a sign of business leadership and strategy that goes beyond the media coverage of the holiday season.

  • Harwell, D. (2014). How giving workers the day off for Thanksgiving became a retailer
    promotional scheme. The Washington Post. Retrieved from: