Taking a pass on Black Friday

He likened the experience to attending a football game or a concert. Sure, you could have watched on TV or listened to a CD, but it's more fun to be there in person.

"It's something you can do with the whole family," Cohen said. "It's a way to be together."

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't the sort of tradition the Pilgrims had in mind when the Thanksgiving feast originated.

I also have to wonder about all the store workers who have to miss time with their families because their employer decided it could turn a fast buck by opening on Thanksgiving Day.

Most such workers receive a little extra for the holiday hours, typically time and a half. But I'm guessing that's not why they report for duty rather than enjoy a day off with loved ones.

They do so because they're terrified that not showing up for work will cost them their jobs. Maybe not on Thanksgiving itself, but at some point when their managers are tallying up who has a "good attitude" and who doesn't.

In case you didn't know: The United States is the only developed country without a single legally required paid vacation day or holiday. Not one. All paid time off is at the whim of employers.

For that reason, a quarter of all Americans don't get a single paid day off, according to a recent report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

Cohen said that any day in which 15% of consumers turn out to shop is a big day for retailers, and that's undoubtedly true.

But considering that 85% of consumers are happy to skip Black Friday, it's not much of a stretch to figure that just as many — probably more — would prefer devoting Thanksgiving to its intended purpose: a sharing of gratitude for the simple things.

That may be bad for business. But there are 364 other days in the year to stimulate the economy.

David Lazarus' column runs Tuesdays and Fridays. He also can be seen daily on KTLA-TV Channel 5 and followed on Twitter @Davidlaz. Send your tips or feedback to david.lazarus@latimes.com.

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