Regulating Thanksgiving and Black Friday (U.S. News & World Report)


“I would strongly endorse just about any law that keeps stores closed on Thanksgiving,” writes Dartmouth’s Charles Wheelan ’88 in a U.S. News & World Report opinion piece. “Black Friday has turned into an arms race that is making everyone worse off: shoppers, workers, and even retailers.”

Instead of enjoying turkey and pumpkin pie, consumers are spending Thanksgiving shopping in hopes of getting the best deals, says Wheelan, a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences and a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics. “Every party to this shopping melee is acting rationally, but collectively they have made a mockery of Thanksgiving for no purpose whatsoever,” he says. “That’s not my inner Puritan speaking; it’s basic logic. Everyone could get the same deals on the same stuff if they started shopping on Friday morning instead.”

Wheelan continues, “Only government can save us from ourselves. This is one of the singular cases in which government (presumably state governments) can make us better off by limiting our choices. If the stores can’t open on Thanksgiving Thursday by law, then everyone can load up on TVs, phones, and toys on Friday. We could get the items at the same prices in the same stores—and enjoy Thanksgiving, too.”

Read the full opinion piece, published 12/2/13 by U.S. News & World Report.

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