I sometimes think of the "retail ruining of Thanksgiving" as a pretty good argument against libertarianism. That is, if government mandated that stores can't open on Thanksgiving, pretty much EVERYONE benefits: stores don't really WANT to open early, they just want to open before their competitors. A mandated open time prevents the "race to the bottom... of Thanksgiving morning". Similarly, bargain hunters don't want to miss out on Thanksgiving either - they just want to get the best deals.
Keep in mind that some people not only like to stretch their dollar, but they don't have the luxury of shopping online, or when the malls are open. Not everyone works 9-5 on weekdays. Not everyone owns a computer, has broadband, or is computer savvy. And not everyone saves their "thanks" and family time for the last Thursday in November (some people actually bond during Black Friday shopping!). Majority opinion, thank God, is not how we run this country.
Ultimately, that's why I kind of finally got on board with the fact that most stores (and even restaurants) are closed on Sundays in France - especially since the rule on whether a store can be open on Sunday is that the owner of the store needs to be present during all business hours.
But you need to trade your precious time and effort to get paid. Mandating that there should be no trade on the nth day of the week/month/year, days that were arbitrarily set by a bunch of dead white guys trying to appease their subjects or gods is just mind boggling to me. That should definitely not be a basis for a one-size-fits-all rule for people in vastly different circumstances who wish (often need) to trade or not trade.
We don't have nearly enough national holidays in the U.S., and I don't want to take this one away from anyone.
It is incredibly bizarre.
I suspect that this somewhat has to do with the decline in retail dollars and the higher-ups are milking whatever they can get their hands on to keep sales going.
However, a few years ago (2009), my wife and I went out late Thanksgiving night for a midnight Toys R Us opening… then Old Navy… then Walmart… then Kmart. It was certainly crazy, but we saved around $300. We got video games, Lego sets and toys. All of it was stuff we wanted, and none of it was junk.
Would I do it again? With the perspective of how it interrupts Thanksgiving for all those employees, I think probably not. I'd be part of the problem. But it definitely paid off at the time.
Sort of aside— you don't have to drop your turkey leg and rush out the door on Thanksgiving to get in line to get good deals. Ignore the doorbusters and drop by the stores anytime later in the day. There's lots of other good stuff that's legitimately on sale that's still there all day. Costco doesn't even open early on Black Friday, and their sales go through the weekend.
That's actually an interesting story. Old Navy was #2 on our list of stores, I think a 3 a.m. opening. The line wasn't all that bad—everybody lined up along the front of the store. Around maybe 2:50, a bunch of people started showing up, waiting just in the parking lot in front of the store. As soon as they opened the doors, these people tried to rush the store and skip the line, pushing the people who had been waiting out of the way.
You'd better believe the people who had been waiting in the cold for a few hours were not happy about this. There's thousands of Black Friday fight videos on YouTube. They aren't caused by polite people suddenly turning into assholes at the thought of cheap junk. They're caused by assholes trying to cheat a pretty orderly system.