What’s Driving This Year’s Black Friday Mania?

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Workers who earn minimum wage at retailers open on Thanksgiving Day can thank fallout from the government shutdown for being on the job that day. A record number of retailers will allow consumers to spend during an unprecedented number of hours on America’s most storied holiday this year. Though this trend of “Black Friday Creep” is not new, it is reaching new heights and being driven by errant decisions in Washington.

To be fair, since the 2008 recession, Thanksgiving has been slowly transforming into a shopping day that marks the start of the holiday retail season. But the collapse in consumer confidence after the shuttering of the government in October and the rollback in government food assistance just weeks ago, has unnerved retailers and pushed them to extend hours to unseen limits. That’s because without a successful holiday season the retail business simply doesn’t make economic sense.

According to the Retail Federation of America, sales between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Eve account for up to 40 percent of a store’s annual sales. Those four weeks is when consumer businesses swing into profit. They essentially underwrite operations for the previous 11 months.

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See an infographic of store hours this Thanksgiving, with a snapshot of the 16 million retail workers in the US.