Audio story: Black Friday gobbles up Thanksgiving

While many of us will be enjoying turkey and mashed potatoes, retail employees across the country will be preparing shelves for doorbuster sales and stampedes of shoppers.

In the race for capturing consumers during the busiest shopping season of the year, many retailers will be opening earlier than they ever have before.

Holiday sales make up about 20 percent of the retail industry’s annual sales, and stores are pulling out all the stops this year.

This will be Macy’s first year opening on Thanksgiving day.  Doors will open at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28, along with Target, Sears, Kohls and JC Penney.  Other major retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy will open at 6 p.m. and Kmart is pushing all the way back to 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.

Annika Yan, a sales associate at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis, is scheduled to work from 7:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving to 5:30 a.m. the next morning.

“Everybody in the store is supposed to be here. Thanksgiving is your day; everybody’s supposed to know that,” she said. “If you can’t work, you quit.”

The National Retail Federation estimated between 720,000 and 780,000 seasonal positions will be filled this year.

Although some customers will be in the holiday spirit, others can get pushy while vying for the best deals. Working retail during the holidays can be a nightmare for some, but it’s all about perspective.

“That day there are a lot of angry people,” Yan said. “You need to have a good attitude.”

Other employees are eager to get their first experience with the die-hard shoppers.

“I’m excited because I’ve never worked for a Black Friday,” said Lauren Metzler, an executive team lead at Target.

Many college students are disappointed they are scheduled because they won’t be able to go home, but working on Thanksgiving or Black Friday is a requirement for employees, Metzler said. Part of her job will be to keep her team motivated and energetic.

“Whenever I’m trying to cheer up the employees I mostly just try to stay positive,” she said. “We get to interact with all the crazy shoppers and help them out as well as have a little fun ourselves.”

This year’s holiday shopping season is six days shorter than last year, but according to the NRF consumers will spend nearly 4 percent more this holiday season.

Laura Marrinan is studying journalism at the University of Minnesota.