My friend Matt Lesser recently proposed a bill to discourage retailers from opening on Thanksgiving. Although some people suggested Connecticut ban stores from opening the way Massachusetts does, Lesser proposed forcing employers to pay their employees triple overtime if they work on Thanksgiving. This would discourage the practice without banning it. It has been interesting to read the backlash including the Courant editorial page but I still agree with Lesser on this.
It was only a little while ago that independent liquor stores were lobbying to keep in a place a law that barred alcohol sales on Sundays. Their argument was that it gave them a day off and they did not experience greater profits by opening on Sunday since most people would just buy their liquor on Saturday. I see no reason why this principle would not translate to Black Friday shopping. I have yet to see the data but I doubt retailers make more money by opening early if all of them do so.
Some have argued that it is fine because people in the armed services or in essential professions work on Thanksgiving. I think that having those people work on the holiday is less objectionable because they are essential and they get into the profession understanding they will be needed. For many, retail is a job of last resort. Retail employees taking Thanksgiving off will not endanger the public.
Finally regardless of whether it is good for the workers, as a shopper I dislike the creeping of the store openings into the holiday. I would prefer to shop on Friday and I would prefer the deals be available then. So I am declining to shop tonight. I will probably do most of my shopping online and may hit up some stores tomorrow.