The pushback against T-Day openings

Workers want their lives back. That’s the sentiment behind the campaign to curb retail Thanksgiving Day business. The latest group to jump into the fray is package store owners who don’t want to sell alcohol on Turkey Day, but, being good capitalists, may be forced to open if their competitors do.

At issue is a bill filed by Rep. Colleen Garry, a Dracut Democrat, that would allow liquor stores to open on Thanksgiving. The rationale for this measure, filed by the lawmaker who represents a town that borders New Hampshire, is that liquor retailers are losing out to their cross-border competitors whose stores are open (and don’t charge sales tax).

Massachusetts law specifically prohibits liquor stores from opening on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Memorial Day.

Opponents of the bill who testified before the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure had a common refrain: Thanksgiving is for families.

South Shore liquor store owner Rick Curtis criticized the bill saying he didn’t care what any new law might allow: he would not change his mind about Thanksgiving openings. “As a retailer of 39 years with two stores and over 100 employees, I’m absolutely against it,” Curtis said. “Personally, it’s a very sacred day to me and my family, and I want to give my employees an opportunity to be thankful and stay with their families.”

However, Frank Anzalotti, executive director of the Massachusetts Package Stores Association, acknowledged that some liquor store owners whose businesses border New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Connecticut may feel that they are losing out on revenue.

Although he didn’t have the data to back up his gut feeling, Anzalotti thinks that the sentiment would probably run counter to opening on Thanksgiving if association members were tallied.

The pressure on liquor stores to open on Thanksgiving because one’s competitors are resembles what’s going on in the rest of the retail industry where the Black Friday holiday season shopping frenzy has spilled over into what used to be a family-filled day of food and football.

Many of the nation’s largest retailers, including Walmart, Target, PetSmart, and Family Dollar, will be open. Others such as Mattress Firm, Staples, GameStop, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Burlington Coat Factory, and Costco have already announced that they won’t be.

More retailers seem to be thinking twice about opening on Thanksgiving. Many stores have not yet announced what they plan to do, according to Boycott Black Thursday’s Facebook page. The social media campaign, which sprang into action against pre-Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving in 2011, notes that, “What we’ve noticed is almost complete radio silence from major retailers….”

Grassroots consumer pressure has played a key role in the growing distaste for the conspicuous consumption death match that Black Friday has become, especially once it started creeping into Thanksgiving.

The Washington Post argues that the tussle over who is open and who is not has taken on a “moral” imperative: “It is morality as a marketing scheme, and it’s adding a new tension to how retailers will compete during some of the busiest shopping days of the year.”

It may also mark a time when being family friendly also makes good business sense. Last year, a CNN Money analysis found that opening on Thanksgiving is a “zero sum game.” Moreover, serious shoppers don’t necessarily wait until Thanksgiving or Black Friday to pop into stores for deals. Besides, the Internet.

Meanwhile, back in the Massachusetts package store world, at least one owner believes it’s not worth giving up a day off to chase the almighty dollar. In his testimony before the legislative committee, Steve Rubin, the owner of Boston’s Huntington Wine and Spirits, testified that Thanksgiving week is his slowest period of the year since his best customers, Northeastern University students, leave for the holiday.

-GABRIELLE GURLEY

 

BEACON HILL

Massachusetts Chief Justice Ralph Gants says the nation “has gone mad with mass incarceration.” (WBUR)

The Baker administration is down to one ombudsman for all of the state’s assisted living facilities. (CommonWealth)

Attorney General Maura Healey punts on the question of fantasy sports sites, saying she has no plans to act against Boston-based DraftKings. She had earlier said the company was operating legally. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

An Eagle-Tribune editorial takes the region to task for throwing barriers in the way of affordable housing. “This happens in the region’s cities as well as small towns, and it’s turning into a major problem,” the editorial said.

A big speed bump for Mayor Marty Walsh’s Boston Grand Prix, as the acting head of the state convention center, which controls key parts of the proposed course, tells the Herald “we have a long ways to go” before the race gets the green light.

The Lowell City Council directs the school system to start teaching students about the danger of opioid use. (The Sun)

CASINOS

MGM Resorts wants to cut the size of its Springfield project by 14 percent. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

US Rep. Paul Ryan does an about-face and says he will run for speaker if the warring GOP factions coalesce behind him. (New York Times)

Arizona becomes the first and only state in the nation to impose a one-year lifetime limit on access to a federal program that provides aid to needy families. (Arizona Republic)

ELECTIONS

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch has spent more than $500,000 for his reelection campaign this year, a new record for the city as he tries to hold onto the seat in a challenge by the man he defeated in 2007 and the holder of the old record for spending, former mayor William Phelan. (Patriot Ledger)

A WBUR/MassINC Polling Group survey puts Hillary Clinton on top in New Hampshire. (Boston Globe) WBUR also launches Politicker.

Do some of Donald Trump’s solutions to problems seem a tad simplistic? That’s not surprising considering a speech analysis finds he speaks at a level targeted to a fourth-grader. (Boston Globe)

 BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Snail mail is taking even longer to arrive in central Massachusetts, in part due to a requirement that all mail processing take place in Boston. (Telegram & Gazette)

Several firms show interest in redeveloping Lowell’s Hamilton Canal District. (The Sun)

A 656-unit residential development project is on tap for South Boston’s Andrew Square. (Boston Herald)

Roche Bros. at Boston’s Downtown Crossing taxes items in a peculiar way: A container of yogurt sold downstairs is not taxed, but the same container sold upstairs is taxed. (CommonWealth)

EDUCATION

In a stunning turn of events, state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, who chairs the national governing board overseeing the PARCC test, says Massachusetts should not adopt the assessment but instead retool the MCAS exam while drawing from the Common Core-aligned PARCC test in doing so. (CommonWealth)

After putting on hold the release of math MCAS scores for Boston’s English High School because of concern over “irregularities” — largely driven by a big spike in scores — state education officials have validated the test results. (Boston Herald)

Just five years after opening, Beverly High School is already running above capacity. (Salem News)

Collapsing oil prices have put a stress on finances for colleges and universities in oil-producing states such as Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Alaska, where the schools rely heavily on donations from the energy sector. (Associated Press)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

New guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society recommend less frequent mammography screening. (Stat)

President Obama is expected to unveil a plan to stem the frightening rise in drug overdose deaths, including mandated training for federal doctors and ordering federal health plans to provide coverage for addiction treatment. (New York Times)

An intraparty battle among Democrats is breaking out over the so-called “Cadillac tax” in the Affordable Care Act. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

Charlton Town Meeting members vote to establish a local 3-cent tax on gasoline sold inside the town’s borders, including two stations on the Massachusetts Turnpike. (Telegram & Gazette)

The Board of Governors of the Steamship Authority is considering a proposal to use New Bedford’s port to ship freight to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard as Woods Hole residents complain the heavy trucking traffic clogs their roads and creates a safety hazard. (Standard-Times)

The possibility of higher parking fees doesn’t sit well with commuters in Lynn. (The Item)

 ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Lowell Sun editorial urges town officials to work closely with Kinder Morgan officials to win concessions improving the route of the proposed pipeline even if they are opposed to it.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A coalition of more than 130 top law enforcement officials from around the country are calling for more efforts to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate, including eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing. (New York Times)

Amy Bishop, the Braintree native who murdered three colleagues in a 2010 shooting at the University of Alabama and was later indicted for the shooting death of her brother 25 years earlier, said she is “terribly sorry” for the Alabama deaths in her first public apology for the killings. (Patriot Ledger)

Debbie DiMasi talks about her effort to get the Legislature to pass a bill allowing for the compassionate release of inmates suffering from terminal illness even though the measure will not affect her husband, former House speaker Sal DiMasi who is battling tongue cancer in federal prison in North Carolina. (Greater Boston)

The former head of the Massachusetts State Police has filed a motion in federal court seeking to be dismissed as a defendant in a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a mentally ill New Bedford man who was shot and killed by a state trooper in Quincy in 2013. (Patriot Ledger)

MEDIA

Disney’s ESPN is reportedly planning to eliminate 350 jobs. (Bloomberg)