All hands on deck for Black Friday workers



By Tanquarae McCadney

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While Black Friday is not an official holiday, many in the U.S. have the day off — but people who work in retail may not be so lucky.

In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that of the 12.3 million students who attended college, more than 5.7 million students were employed. More than 19,700 high school and college-age people worked in various retail trades, and many of them have to work on Black Friday.

Black Friday’s name originally appeared in the 1960s to mark the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season, according to the National Center for Families Learning. Accountants would keep their records by hand, using red ink to show negative amounts and black ink to indicate profit.

Participating stores create a limited number of markdowns, door buster deals and coupons for shoppers to collect upon entering their stores on Black Friday, sometimes causing people to camp out in front of retail outlets for days in advance to get the best bang for their bucks.

Marissa Mann, a sophomore who is an assistant manager at Janie and Jack in Fayette Mall, said sales on any given Friday at her store usually range from $1,600 to $2,500. This year Janie and Jack’s sale is offering 20 percent off of its entire inventory and set its sales goal at $7,355.

“We have seven people who work here and everyone is working Black Friday,” she said. “We’ve got all hands on deck.”

Fayette Mall normally opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m., but it will be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday.

“I wish it wasn’t as early, I have to open the store at 5:30,” Mann said. “It’s hard for me because during the holidays I have to commute back and forth from Elizabethtown, which is about an hour and a half commute and I usually work days.”

According to the National Retail Foundation, some stores more than double their expected revenue and gain up to 30 percent of their annual sales during the holiday rush in November and December. The National Retail Foundation’s Thanksgiving Weekend Spending Survey estimates about 55.1 percent of holiday shoppers expect to shop in stores and online over Thanksgiving weekend, showing an increased need for workers.

Zachary Simpson, a chemical engineering sophomore, said he was lucky enough to take this year’s Black Friday off.

Simpson is a sales associate at GNC in Fayette Mall. His family is from a small town four hours north of Lexington in Indiana, but he now lives in Lexington full-time.

“Students who work retail and live out-of-state definitely have a harder time with that,” he said. “I would have been able to go home — I would have just had to come back on Thanksgiving to make it here on time.”