NBC: Thanksgiving 'In Jeopardy' Because of Government Shutdown

After NBC warned viewers that the partial government shutdown that ended weeks ago may be "the Grinch that stole Christmas," on Tuesday's Today, correspondent Stephanie Gosk fretted that Thanksgiving would be ruined as well: "Macy's, the company that sponsors the Thanksgiving Day Parade, will open its doors on the holiday for the first time in 155 years....But there is a risk, the identity of one of the country's most cherished holidays may be in jeopardy." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Despite co-host Matt Lauer noting moments earlier that the trend of Black Friday creeping into Thanksgiving had been happening "for years," Gosk laid blame on October's temporary shutdown: "Retailers are facing a tough reality. The government shutdown slowed down the economy and took a serious toll on consumer confidence. A recent poll showed that just over half of shoppers say they will spend less than last year this Christmas season."

The report featured a sound bite of one woman lamenting: "It's bad because it's a family holiday. It's kind of like a business-oriented like capitalizing thing and it's supposed to be a holiday." Hitha Prabhakar of the Aitchpe Retail Advisory melodramatically announced: "When it comes to Thanksgiving, in the next couple years, I don't think it's going to be called Thanksgiving, I think it's going to be called 'Thanks for Shopping.'"  

On Friday's Nightly News, it was Halloween that had been wrecked by a scheduled reduction in food stamp benefits.


Here is a full transcript of Gosk's November 5 report:

7:16AM ET

MATT LAUER: Let's now move on to the fast-approaching holiday shopping season. For years, Black Friday – we've talked about it all the time – it's slowly creeping into Thanksgiving. This year, even more retailers are jumping on that trend. Here's NBC's Stephanie Gosk.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Black Thursday & Friday; Sears & Kmart to Open Doors on Thanksgiving]

STEPHANIE GOSK: Attention Kmart shoppers, anyone who needs a break from Thanksgiving, all that turkey and football, can stop in any time. For the first time ever, the retailer is planning a 41-hour shopping blitz from 6:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning through 10:00 p.m. on Black Friday. Sears isn't far behind, with it's own turkey day all-nighter. Doors open at 8 p.m. and don't close until 10:00 p.m. Friday. Stores are opening earlier and staying open longer for one simple reason, they believe people will shop.

HITHA PRABHAKAR [AITCHPE RETAIL ADVISORY]: We're a society that likes to spend. So no matter what, consumers will sacrifice to go in and get the best deal possible. It doesn't matter if that deal is coming in June or July, or on a national holiday such as Thanksgiving.

GOSK: Even Macy's, the company that sponsors the Thanksgiving Day Parade, will open it's doors on the holiday for the first time in 155 years, waiting only a few hours after Santa passes by the front doors. The pressure from the competition may have been too much. Toys-R-us, Target, Walmart, all opened for business on Thanksgiving last year.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's bad because it's a family holiday. It's kind of like a business-oriented like capitalizing thing and it's supposed to be a holiday.

GOSK: And for anyone who doesn't want to get in the car, almost every store has online deals that kick off on Thanksgiving as well.

But retailers are facing a tough reality. The government shutdown slowed down the economy and took a serious toll on consumer confidence. A recent [National Foundation for Credit Counseling] poll showed that just over half of shoppers say they will spend less than last year this Christmas season. But there is a risk, the identity of one of the country's most cherished holidays may be in jeopardy.

PRABHAKAR: When it comes to Thanksgiving, in the next couple years, I don't think it's going to be called Thanksgiving, I think it's going to be called "Thanks for Shopping."

GOSK: Stephanie Gosk, NBC News, New York.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC