Dee DePass has been a Star Tribune business reporter since 1993, covering small business, financial institutions, manufacturing and, most recently, the economy. Originally from New York, Dee came to Minnesota after earning her master's in journalism at the University of Maryland and her undergraduate degree at Vassar College.

Posts about Holiday spending

A dandy of a backlash is boiling against Target's Black Thursday plans.

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: November 16, 2011 - 5:46 PM

 Anthony Hardwick's "Tell Target to Save Thanksgiving" campaign has struck a nerve. 

More than 122,000 people have signed the Target employee's petition at His goal? To have supporters tell the retailer to give up its midnight store opening on Thanksgiving night.  Employees want to eat turkey with their families next Thursday and not disrupt the holiday evening just so they can schlep to work to help Target earn an extra buck.

The argument appears to be gaining some traction. Some 60,000 Americans signed Hardwick's petition as of of Monday night. By Tuesday afternoon, the number was 93,363. By dawn Wednesday, it hit 100,053. By dusk it was nearly 123,000.

Target's decision to start Black Friday even earlier than usual wasn't done in a vacuum. Wal-Mart said it will open stores at 10 PM Thanksgiving night.

But the question is, are employees really suffering by being called to work on a holiday normally spent at home? What do you think? National unemployment still stings at 9 percent. Do workers have a right to gripe? Apparently so.

Sears felt so strongly about the subject, its communications staff sent reporters notes Tuesday saying Sears will stay shut on Turkey day so its employees can spend time with their families. As for shoppers? They can head to Sears store at 4 am on Black Friday.

Workers and employers, feel free to join in the debate on Twitter at DePassStrib or email

Retailers report slight hiring burst in October

Posted by: Dee DePass Updated: November 8, 2011 - 1:46 PM

Holiday hiring bounced to a relatively strong start last month with retailers adding 141,500 non-seasonally adjusted jobs in October, according to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. That nearly matched the 144,100 retail jobs added in October 2010.

"The first month of holiday hiring both this year and last represent vast improvements over the recession years of 2007 through 2009," said CEO John Challenger.

From 2007 through 2009, retailers added just 57,200 seasonal workers for the entire month of October.

The year 2008 alone proved the worst holiday-hiring season in 22 years with retailers only adding 38,600 seasonal workers in October and 324,000 total workers from October through December.

For now, all eyes are on retail activity this month. “November will give us the best indication of how 2011 stacks up when it comes to holiday hiring. That is usually when we see the highest number of jobs added,” Challenger said.

He and other sector watchers, however, said that this holiday season faces some head winds as consumer confidence remains brittle and burdened by weak job gains nationwide and continued signs of anemic economic growth. That affects retailers decision to hire. 

While holiday hiring helps, there are still nearly 14 million unemployed Americans and another 12 million or so who either stopped looking for work or are working part time jobs because they can't find full time work.

“Even if retailers dramatically increase hiring in November, it will not be easy to find a job for those seeking seasonal positions,’’ Challenger said.”People who may have never considered working in retail in the past may now be willing to do so in light of long-term unemployment.”



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