Are Walmart Workers Planning Massive Black Friday Weekend Strikes?

 There are now less than 100 shopping days until  Christmas, and thoughts are turning not to Santa Claus but to finding the cheapest Christmas gift bargains. Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving and is considered to be the first day of the Christmas Shopping season. If the uprising trend of the past several years is anything to go by, this year will see another record breaking Black Friday weekend. And it could be a weekend that breaks records in more ways than one. Last year Black Friday shopping figures hit a brand new record, with spending over the weekend increasing from $52.4 million in 2011 to $59.1 in 2012. 

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The average consumer spending on Black Friday alone was $423 per person, according to research from the National Retail Federation. Interestingly, the city that spent the most (per resident) over the Black Friday weekend was New York, with each resident spending $259 on online shopping alone. Amazon.com was the most visited online retailer over the Black Friday weekend in 2012 with the site receiving 7.7 million unique visitors over the course of the weekend.

Away from the frenzy of discounted shopping, Black Friday 2012 also saw Walmart workers organize a 400-strong strike. This was the largest and highest-profile action to date by the union-backed non-union workers’ group OUR Walmart. It was also the biggest strike ever organized against Walmart in the company’s fifty year history: until now. In a new OUR Walmart campaign (which has been linked closely to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union) the group have promised ”widespread, massive strikes and protests for Black Friday” 2013, the day after Thanksgiving.

 The strike this year  is expected to be as large, if not larger, than last year’s event, although organisers are yet to offer the numbers of those involved, stating that planning had just begun and it was too early to offer numbers. Walmart however seem unconcerned by the talk of strike action from their staff, referring to the protests as a union-backed publicity stunt. In a formal statement, a spokesperson for Walmart dismissed the rumors about the scale of 2012’s protests saying “At many 2012 protests there were no Walmart associates to be found at all…except of course the more than 1 million people who chose to work that day, helping to contribute to Walmart’s best Black Friday ever.”

Black Friday Shopping at Walmart

As soon as Thanksgiving is over, consumers begin hunting for Christmas gifts from a wide range of different retailers and online outlets. Parents search for discounted toys and electrical goods for their children. Husbands want cut priced jewelry for their wives. And if you’re a business owner yourself, it’s the perfect time of year to search for seasonal gifts for your staff so that you can thank thank them for their hard work day in and day out throughout the year, without it breaking the bank. So how will the news of the Walmart strike affect the bargains to be had in the superstore this Black Friday Weekend?

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 And what deals will be available? Early predictions are that the walk out won’t affect Walmart’s Black Friday offering at all. For the first time in 2012 the retail giant started Black Friday early, opening most of their stores at 8pm on Thanksgiving night: this was such a success it’s expected the same policy will be followed this year. In 2012 Walmart’s big ad offers focused on electrical goods, with an LG Blu-ray DVD player for just $38, 16GB iPad 2 tablets with built in wifi for $399 and Emerson 32 inch HDTV’s for $148. It’s too early to say at this stage what the advertised offers from Walmart for Black Friday 2013 will be. But it’s clear that the retailer won’t be letting these protests stop it releasing the best and most competitive deals possible.

According to President and CEO of the National Retailers Federation, Matthew Shay. “Thanksgiving shopping has really becoming an extension of the day’s activities. Whole families are going.” And Walmart wasn’t the only company that chose to open on Thanksgiving evening, rather than waiting for the next morning: Toys R US, Sears, and Target also ushered in customers soon after they’d finished eating their turkey. And yet, employees from those companies did not protest of threaten strike action. This leads to the assumption that OUR Walmart’s issues with the company have very little to do with early opening on Thanksgiving day.

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