Exploring the Moral Gray Area of Gray Thursday

Gray Thursday Facts



We are all familiar with Black Friday and Cyber Monday by now. Those bargain-busting, price-slashing sale days that bring in the start of the Christmas shopping season. But have you heard of Gray Thursday?

Dubbed “The Thanksgiving Creep,” this day has certainly drummed up controversy for shoppers and retail employees alike.

But is Gray Thursday a bit of a gray area, or is it here to stay?

What is Gray Thursday?

What Is Gray Thursday?

Gray Thursday is the day before Black Friday. Just like its mega deals neighbor, this day is for retail shoppers to grab a bargain and begin ticking items off their Christmas list. However, this Thursday obviously isn’t just any Thursday, it’s Thanksgiving!

The first store to kick off the Gray Thursday trend was K-Mart. In 2009, they opened their doors at 8 pm on Thanksgiving Day, giving shoppers an extra four hours of bargain hunting before the official start of Black Friday.

This proved to be a profitable success, inspiring other retailers to begin doing the same. In 2012, megastores like Target and Toys R Us joined in on this post-turkey/pre-Friday trend, followed by Walmart, Sears, and Macy’s in the coming years.

Although stores are seen to be benefiting from Gray Thursday, the phenomenon has brought about concern for those who either participate in it or not. Have we forgotten what Thanksgiving is all about?

The controversy of Gray Thursday.

Gray Thursday Controversies

The origins of the term “Gray Thursday” are not clear. However, there is much to suggest that it could be related to the moral grey area it conjures.

Swapping your Thanksgiving roast turkey for half-price gadgets doesn’t seem like a particularly good Thanksgiving tradition, which is why this day is controversial for both retail shoppers and employees. Should we really be fighting the crowds instead of being with family?

In 2012, Target employee Anthony Hardwick created a petition on Change.org that garnered nearly 200,000 signatures. His message: “Save Thanksgiving for its employees, their families and consumers”. Target opened its doors regardless.

Similarly, in 2014, cashiers and stockers protested in front of Walmart’s throughout the country. Working on Gray Thursday would mean that some employees would not be able to join their families for dinner. They would have to attend their shifts instead.

Employees aren’t the only ones missing out on the pumpkin pie. Just like the Black Friday stampedes, the shoppers become as competitive as the prices. Shoppers have been seen to begin camping outside of stores as early as the Wednesday before, missing Thanksgiving altogether in favor of grabbing a deal instead.

In Conclusion

Despite petitions, protests, and uneaten pecans, Gray Thursday remains part of the Christmas purchasing frenzy. Whether you are the kind of consumer who is willing to fight the crowds or an employee who fights for the day off at home, Gray Thursday is a topic that divides the room.

So, is the temptation of an extra day of seasonal splurging more enticing than a sweet potato pie? Or is being with the family more important than 10% off a flat-screen TV?

About The Author

Ciara Sheridan
Ciara Sheridan

Ciara has been working in the TV and film industry since 2015, while also moonlighting as a freelance writer. When not at work, you can find her drinking coffee in old bookshops or playing dress-up in her closet.

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